Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

Modest Mouse – We Are Between

Score-wise, checks out…


Andrew Karpan: A blissful rehash in that beloved mold of “Under Cover of Darkness,” though I suppose there’s no reason you couldn’t say the same about something like that most recent KOL record too: anthemic performances of ’00s rock bands reduced to three-chord sonic signatures, with aspirations of translating brand awareness into mainstream rock radio play. Screened through the “trademark” (his label’s press release calls it this, and someday, maybe, a lawsuit will too) of Isaac Brock’s agitated growl, this one comes off something like Matt Berninger doing Adele’s “Hello” on the karaoke box, which is nice enough or better than anything he’s minted out in the last decade. Good on him. I leave its chime of soaring chords with the same aspirations as his handlers at Epic Records.

Alfred Soto: The opening salvo recalls Wild Nothings, Isaac Brock thickly bellows like the fortysomething Lindsey Buckingham, and the title recalls themselves. So why is “We Are Between” inert? The descriptions of personal crisis that substituted for the Pixies’ figurative expressions complemented the gnarled guitar lines. Now, the former sound canned and the latter muted. 

Nortey Dowuona: The guitars spin out a few spikes, then Isaac Brock’s shaky voice climbs atop the spikes as they smash against the bass and the drums. They open up, letting Isaac crawl through, then smash down again as he slips free. The guitars whir rotely and disappear as Isaac flies away on a bed of synths.

John Pinto: About midway through Pfork’s Lonesome Crowded West doc, Calvin Johnson’s (expectedly) less-than-rigorous standards as a producer come up. His laxness at the board led to some cool moments (the whirring effects and dub delays on “Trucker’s Atlas,” a song I’d give a [10]), as well as some tracks so out-of-tune, they had to be re-recorded with Phil Ek. “We Are Between” is such a shockingly bland cut from a band that, at their peak, thrilled by forcing big ambitions into the most ramshackle of vehicles, so you kinda gotta wonder: is this Pro Tools’ fault?

Jeffrey Brister: Look, it’s not instantly memorable–songs like that are lightning in a bottle, aberrations, exceptional bits of history, shooting stars, etc etc. But a meat-and-potatoes groovy, dancy post-punk song with yowled vocals has its own pleasures–straight ahead, unshowy, filled with teeny flourishes that pop out in subsequent listens. And I’m a sucker for wide-eyed, uncynical songs about our earthly impermanence.

Ian Mathers: I’m not super knowledgable about Modest Mouse’s past body of work, but I gotta say that lyrics and music both this feels pretty far from “If you could be anything you want I bet you’d be disappointed, am I right?” or “Laugh hard, it’s a long way to the bank.” And not for the better.

Aaron Bergstrom: This Is A Long Song For Someone With Nothing To Sing About

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