Album of the Week: Modest Mouse, 'The Golden Casket'

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Modest Mouse, 'The Golden Casket'
Modest Mouse, 'The Golden Casket' (Epic Records)
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Jim Mcguinn - Album of the Week: Modest Mouse, 'The Golden Casket'
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The Golden Casket is the first album in six years from Modest Mouse. Think about how much the world's been through in the time since Strangers To Ourselves - Donald Trump! Tik Tok! Covid! Tiger King! While none are directly addressed, the questions of indecision and ennui seems to hang over the album, with lead singer/songwriter Isaac Brock wrestling in song after song. Like many of us waking up in a post-pandemic world, our beliefs and habits have been shaken. Maybe it's time to get back to simpler pleasures, to Marie Kondo our lives, to appreciate what we too often took for granted in the before times.

Keeping it indie rock real despite the multiplatinum success in their past, Modest Mouse opens the album with "F*ck Your Acid Trip," in which the narrator gets stuck in the woods on a drug trip/journey he doesn't want to be on, at least not this particular weekend ("I have to go right now / We'll figure it out"). From there we journey to the album's first single, "We Are Between," where Brock continues to ponder "somewhere between dust and the stars / we are between, here we are." And on it goes, from "Wooden Soldiers": "making plans in the sands as the tides roll in" and "just being here now is enough for me" - a repeated mantra over percussive vibes, speaking to the impermanence of our collected recent past.

Even after those years away, the album has the Modest Mouse hallmarks: skittery indie rock followed by hooky choruses and catchy riffs, anchored by that voice that's somewhere between early Meat Puppets country/punk and Frank Black's Pixies yelp. Isaac Brock is like someone you meet at a party and spend an evening fascinated by, listening as he spins yarns and theories, a mesmerizing stranger. We don't leave the party friends, but we're captivated, thinking about what he's been saying. And what he's saying on The Golden Casket continues to be that we're all kind of stuck, and by "Back to the Middle," the closing and best track on the album, the parrot "loves to talk," it "won't shut up," but in the end "we'll be pulled right back down to the middle again."

Maybe it's a reflection on the post-Trump era we're in, maybe it's waking up with survivor's guilt from our Covid fever dream, or maybe we're just reaching that point in life where there are no rights and wrongs, only our own decisions, and ultimately, we're all on our own, we are between, and here we are.

External Link

Modest Mouse - official site

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  • Modest Mouse
    Modest Mouse performing live at Rock the Garden 2015 (Teddy Wolff for MPR)
  • Modest Mouse
    Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse performing live at Rock the Garden 2015 (Teddy Wolff for MPR)

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