Modest Mouse is a strange case in the musical world, and it’s all thanks to MTV. Like many bands in the early 2000’s Modest Mouse was a band just trying to find its way and make its music without being told what to sound like. In 2004 the band released Good News for People Who Love Bad News and with it “Float On” hit the public like an atom bomb. To this day the majority of people I know say “Oh yeah they made that one song right?” whenever I mention Modest Mouse. “Float On” struck and MTV ate it up and pumped it out day after day. What sucks about that is that Modest Mouse is a great band with a bigger and more interesting track listing than just “Float On”. My goal with listening to This is a Long Drive… was to find that interest and prove to myself that Modest Mouse is not the one track wonder too many people think the band is.
Modest Mouse has a sound that I would call very much their own. When a song comes on with the droning vocals, surfer-like music, and lyrics about getting there however you can. The album is about loneliness, depression, and not being sure what is to come. “Dramamine” tells the tale of a doomed relationship and the power to get past it all with the help of outside sources. The song moves well and is followed by a thrashing and fast paced “Breakthrough” that picks up the pace greatly. This dichotomy of fast and slow is a running theme on the album and it highlights what the band can do in terms of variety and musical complexity in a great way.
“Custom Concern” is third up and I’d be comfortable saying it is my favorite Modest Mouse song. It’s slow and the guitar follows a simple melody throughout the song while the lyrics tell the story of necessity. The need to get up, to work, to continue on because for some reason we all must regardless of any real reason. It’s calm, it’s beautiful, and it is a song that will always stay in my mind as what music can do for a person when they need it most.
“Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset” is another brooding song on the track that like “Custom Concern” is slow and calm the whole way through. Yet, instead of the mumbled and groaning singing that is found in “Custom Concern” you get the other side of Modest Mouse which is the beloved “almost scream” that lead singer Isaac Brock pulls off so well. It’s as though he wants to yell at the world about his problems but is too contained and worried to let loose fully. Whether this is just how he sings or a preconceived plan is beyond me but either way it works to the band’s advantage as it is the style of singing they are so well known for.
The back and forth keeps going and I recommend listening to the album when you’re just hanging out, particularly on a rainy day if possible. It’s not a depressing album but more an album that spawns thoughts and memories from its melodies. Each song goes over topics and problems that hit right at your core but at the same time feel shared by all. The album is deep and personal but also open to the world like a problem we all share together to ease the burden.
Standout Track- “Custom Concern” just melts you away into a calm state of utter bliss.
Listen to it if- it’s raining outside and you don’t mind taking a trip down memory lane.
Don’t listen to it if- you think crying is for kittens.
Overall opinion- Modest Mouse has a deep track listing and “Float On” really doesn’t do them justice, in fact it’s more of a negative than a positive nowadays. An album like This is a Long Drive… should be taken into account as something special because that’s what it is.