On their major-label debut, longtime indie darlings Modest Mouse deliver an impressive effort that melds the best aspects of their previous albums into a logical extension of their offbeat sound. Fans of the Mouse will have trouble decrying their move to a major label, since they have certainly not "sold-out." Rather, this is easily their best and most cohesive album to date. Exploring themes of loneliness, desolation, and seclusion in modern life, The Moon & Antarctica weaves a dense, layered atmosphere that reflects these heady topics. Each track is quirky and completely unique, and when taken as a whole this can be considered the best "artsy" album to come out since Radiohead's OK Computer.
The album flows easily from the lovely "Gravity Rides Everything," which is propelled along by backwards drums, through the spooky epic "The Stars Are Projectors," before ending with the Fugazi-inspired heaviness of "What People Are Made Of." The lyrics, courtesy of frontman Isaac Brock, are just as impressive as the music. On "A Different City," Brock eloquently sums up television by growling, "They gave me a receipt that said I didn't buy nothing."
Every subsequent listen is guaranteed to reveal some hidden aspect of the music-like the sweeping cello and whispered vocals that create an arctic wind on "The Cold Part," or the delicate banjo plucking that accentuates the ballad "Perfect Disguise," or the frantic percussion that lends a jumpy, rush-hour feel to "Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes."
If all this doesn't sound the least bit modest, well you're right. But this Mouse should be bragging a little after an album this good.