Ayo Jegede
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June 26, 2004
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Rock Music Reviews
Modest Mouse
Good News For People Who Love Bad News

what surprised me about Hail To The Thief wasn't so much the nature of the album, but rather the ridiculous promotion effort behind it. people who were particularly dispassionate about Radiohead felt that somehow this new work was revolutions better than the rest of the catalogue; even if the promotion didn't wield enough influence to make them purchase it, at least a few listens seemed necessary. as an album Hail to The Thief was certainly quite good, but when compared to OK Computer or even Kid A, fans of the group will hesitate to say Hail to The Thief was leaps and bounds better. the ubiquity of Radiohead as a subject in popular music circles was a bit surprising or at the very least curious.

i've never really cared for Modest Mouse. their music ranged from terrible disinterest (Everywhere and His Nasty Parlor Tricks) to kitschy alt-pop (The Moon and Antartica) and all the fans i'd met seemed to look upon the group with a frightening, cultish reverence. still, i had to respect the underground fans they had marshalled in their brief career; with neither tremendous radio play nor strong showing on the national charts, they acquired a sprawling and dedicated base. Good News For People Who Love Bad News is quite possibly the album that Modest Mouse fans will hate. this isn't because it isn't good or somehow aims to accommodate the LCD of listeners, but because they'll be turned into a trend like Jet or The Darkness.

this concern is partially realized by the album itself, which, though not dramatically so, is more palatable than their prior efforts. their first single, 'Float On,' essentially appeases everyone on the musical spectra: it's catchy enough for the pop crowd, 'hip' enough for the adult contemporary crowd, and someone plays straightforward guitar so if you like Incubus, this'll be in your bag. the song itself is pretty good with simple hooks, a nice chorus, and mildly unnerving vocal fluctuations courtesy of Isaac Brock. the first single may not be a proper gauge of the album, though. sure, 'Ocean Breathes Salty,' 'Bury Me With It,' and 'Satin in a Coffin' are just as accessible, but other pieces like 'The Devil's Workday,' with its booming horns, may put off the more distracted listener and 'The World at Large' stands a bit off-kilter with its soothing, woolgathering vocals and instruments.

i can't mark any noticeable change with this work, however, since i've never paid particular attention. they have demonstrated a respectable facility with alt-pop and indie-rock that seems to be making a very hushed surge to the surface of the mainstream. 'Float On' is consequently Modest Mouse's first video in their entire career and, eager to capitalize on the sea of fans ready to see the band emerge from their underground grot, Epic set to motion a pretty hefty marketing campaign for their new baby. still, separated from their newfound mainstream success Good News For People Who Love Bad News is smart, bitchin' alt-pop and indie-rock. just like many may not think Hail To The Thief is Radiohead's strongest piece, it's still a pretty good one. the same goes for Modest Mouse's latest.

Release date: April 6, 2004
Label: Sony
Rating: 8.0 / 10

[RMR]