Two major themes of critics aimed at "We were dead.." are basically, (1) it is too commercial and over-produced compared to indie MM (along the same line as the criticisms of "Good News...") and (2) MM has not progressed beyond its excentricies (e.g., manic vocal stylings, jumpy medodies, quirky lyrics) and typical skewed (cynical + witty) view of things - see the Rolling Stone review, for example.
I partly agree with both criticisms, but -- not to sound wishy-washy - also disagree... Whether you like it or not, Modest Mouse had to evolve from its best CDs, Moon & Anartica and the Lonesome Crowded West... even if their evolution is not fully satisfying to early fans. It WOULD be great to see MM try a little less production for a change, and they DO seem a bit like they are retreading the past, and the themes and music of the CD do NOT always hang together (as the addition of guitarist Marr, is hit or miss or not noticeable)...
YET there ARE gems on "We were dead..." that are well worth the purchase and to sustain hope that MM still have a bright future... even if they may never (again) be critic's darlings. The fact that they were once is likely why current reviews of those same critics are often too negative - very hard to live up to!
So, compared to other MM discs I rate this as a 3.5 out of 5 STARS (but compared to most rock/alt. music out there is it a 4.5!).
Cheers from Motown south.