Modest Mouse, The Lonesome Crowded West

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 08.03.12 in Reviews

The Lonesome Crowded West

Modest Mouse
Gas stations, drinking binges and obsessive existential meditation

Modest Mouse were already experienced road warriors by the time they released their second full album, and it’s very much a record about spending enormous amounts of time on highways: its longest jam is unsurprisingly called “Truckers Atlas.” (See also “Convenient Parking,” a thrilling chant-and-scream piece that’s built on cyclical repetitions large and small.) Isaac Brock’s voice isn’t just dry, it’s parched; his favorite trick as a guitarist is to hit a single note and let it wobble and arc; his lyrics call up gas stations, drinking binges and obsessive existential meditation. And this lineup of Modest Mouse was, more than anything else, a wildly unusual groove band — almost every song is built on tightly arranged rhythms more than riffs.