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We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

4.4 25
by Modest Mouse

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Now that Modest Mouse have fully established themselves as a major-label indie rock band -- no longer an oxymoron! -- with the success of 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News (though they had actually been on Sony, through Epic, since 2000's


Now that Modest Mouse have fully established themselves as a major-label indie rock band -- no longer an oxymoron! -- with the success of 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News (though they had actually been on Sony, through Epic, since 2000's The Moon & Antarctica), they face the difficult task of trying to follow up a mainstream hit while still retaining the adroit quirkiness that won them fans in the first place. Finding that space between "creativity" and "accessibility" is not easy, but the band (with help from Johnny Marr, among others) is probably as well, if not better, equipped as anyone to tackle the challenge. The first single, "Dashboard," is catchy and interesting, even a little off-kilter, but it's also completely radio-friendly, in that dancey Franz Ferdinand kind of way, and the album's opener, "March into the Sea," has great juxtaposition between Isaac Brock's maniacal Cookie Monster laugh and lighter accordion and string work. It's slightly unconventional, and has that raucous energy the band has thrived on, but it's also wholly understandable and approachable, and a lot of fun. Still, too often it seems as if Modest Mouse plays it safe on We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. James Mercer, the singer of the "life-changing" Garden State darlings the Shins, shows up three times on background vocals, and while on "Florida" this works well enough, "Missed the Boat" and "We've Got Everything" are among the weakest tracks on the record, too predictable, in that radio-indie-rock style, to do much more than just take up space. There's nothing overtly wrong with them (or the similarly boring "Education" or "People as Places as People") -- Brock's lyrics are as wackily introspective as ever -- but the band had never just gotten by on being nice-sounding and unmemorable. It's not that Modest Mouse has lost it, or sold out; tracks like "Parting of the Sensory" and "Fly Trapped in a Jar" combine digestible guitar lines and phrasing with a rawer intensity, and show that the group is indeed capable of moving innovate "indie" music to the mainstream ("someday you will die somehow and something's gonna steal your carbon," Brock sings ingeniously over pounding, swirling drums in a kind of post-modern chant in "Parting"), but overall, We Were Dead Before... has chosen the safer, more acceptable route over the more adventurous one. Modest Mouse is a talented bunch, and so the album still works, is still enjoyable. But because they've built themselves on pushing boundaries and traditional sounds, it's also a glaring representation of all they could do, but won't.

Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly - Clark Collis
[Grade: A-] This 14-track-strong album is very much good news for people who loved Good News for People Who Love Bad News.

Product Details

Release Date:

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Modest Mouse   Primary Artist
Dennis Herring   Background Vocals,Hand Clapping,Pump Organ,fender rhodes,Foot Stomping
Clay Jones   Acoustic Guitar,Shaker
Johnny Marr   Group Member
Jeremiah Green   Group Member
Isaac Brock   Group Member
Eric Judy   Group Member
James Mercer   Background Vocals
Joe Plummer   Group Member
Tom Peloso   Group Member
Naheed Simjee   Background Vocals,Hand Clapping,Foot Stomping

Technical Credits

David Ellis   Illustrations
Dennis Herring   Producer,Audio Production
Clay Jones   Programming,Engineer
Modest Mouse   Composer
Joe Zook   Engineer
Casey Burns   Illustrations
Isaac Brock   Composer,Art Direction
Reto Peter   Engineer
Tom Queyja   Engineer
Naheed Simjee   Art Direction
Kyle "Slick" Johnson   Programming,Engineer
Christian Helms   Art Direction

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We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dmlorch More than 1 year ago
Although this album it is more mainstream to appeal to the masses, it still sticks to its indie rock roots. What I mean by this is, although I feel that Modest Mouse toned down its strange nature in this album, I feel as though they kept just the right amount of their strangeness so they can still sound as crazy and different as they always have. While most bands have their bass lines played lightly in the background, Modest Mouse shows no fear about putting its bass line front and center for almost every song. I really enjoy that they do this because bass lines usually carry the rest of the song, but they do not seem to get the credit that they deserve. Another fantastic part of this album is the catchy melodies. Almost every song on this album has been stuck in my head at one point or another. Another interesting part about this band is Isaac Brock's voice. Although in a traditional setting I would say he is not a very good singer, but you do not necessarily have to be a great traditional singer in order to have great music. In this instance I do not think anyone else would be suited for this band. At some times, he sounds like a punk singer, while at others he could even pass for a bluegrass singer. At first I did not like the lead singer's voice, but now I cannot even imagine listening to this band without their lead singer. Although I speak very highly about this band now, I did not like them at first. It takes time to like this band. When I first found this album I was really put off by the singer, and months later I stumbled upon the album once again. This time I started to like it, and as I listened to it more I grew to love them more. Lead singers for indie bands might not always have the greatest traditional voices, which may be one reason non-modest mouse fans may not like it first. Give this album more than just one chance. Another great aspect of this album is the range of emotions that it makes people feel the songs. For example, the song "Little Motel" just through the music alone, not the lyrics, makes you feel a little sad on the inside; the singer's voice also accentuates these feelings. The emotions that the singer portrays are also a great part of this album. He is able to show so many different emotions through his voice. In the song "Florida" at some points in the song he seems angry, but at other times he sings in a happy tune. Although these two emotions can be seen as complete opposites, in the context of the song it works beautifully. In the end, I think that this is a great album that is definitely worth buying.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Modest Mouse deserves alot of respect simply they have to be one of the most creative indie/alt rock bands since the Flaming Lips. They are full of life and energy, and this new album displays that very well. You have to love the title.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Extremely good album. It truly covered both phases of modest mouse form the less polished early days to the more radio friendly moon & Antarctica/Good news days . I continue to be impressed that a band like modest mouse can continue to come up with such great songs with out sounding repetitive as so many bands of their genre. It was worth the wait.
Guest More than 1 year ago
dashboard is the best. missed the boat is good... these are all good!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would have given this album two stars, but the fact the Johnny Marr from The Smiths gave it that extra boost. There was a great amount of hype about Marr joining MM for this album - truth is, though, the songs themselves are sort of thin. Florida and the single Dashboard are the two best songs on the album. But even Florida has that refrain that made the song not as good as it could have been. Definitely purchase this album, but don't be surprised if you are a little more than disappointed. MM fans across the globe have been biting their nails with delight and impatience about the new addition of Marr and the frequent release date pushbacks, but all that talk and gossip about the album will just end up making you wish you hadn't spent all that time waiting impatiently about it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After listening to the early albums over and over again I found that this modest mouse record was dissapointing. It's a definent change from what the first albums sounded like. I hope one thier next album they go back to thier roots. With Everywhere and his nasty parlour of tricks, moon and antarctica, lonesome crowded west, and long drive... modest mouse has a lot of work to do to get back to where they where with me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the first MM CD I bought, and I was very impressed. It's your essential Indie Rock music. I have heard othe stuff by them besides this CD, and it is your normal Modest Mouse sound. I think it's an awesome CD, and I LOVE Dashboard and Florida!
Guest More than 1 year ago
While everyone can bash how Modest mouse has sold out and lost their indie roots, few can say that they cannot make good music. While the addition of johnnie marr has yet to fully understood (the album has guitar work like previous releases, merely a little more guitar work) i feel that this album, can be a classic mouse work. Harkening back to their older work, with Issac wailing away, the cd is very good. It takes a little to become accomstomed to, but it is rapidly approaching my favorite. Still believe that This is a long drive for someone with nothing to think about is better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
don't give me the "well, they're modest mouse. they're still good" thing. to me, a complete blase. wow. so long people waited for this?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't want to ruin the experience for you. There's something special about being highly doubtful of a band's new CD. Lower your expectations and be blown away. Better than their last one, that's all I'll say.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like all previous mm albums, this one is it's own complete package and each song are in their own right are complete pieces. There's a lot of content and textures. A fulfilling listen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yes, the songs may be more challenging this time around, but isn't that a good thing? I loved "Good News for People Who Love Bad News", and I still listen to it almost daily, but I don't want a carbon copy of it. That's boring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would give this ten stars, butt I cant. Thats all. ur two dads are out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Before starting, I must admit that I have only recently started getting into Modest Mouse. However, from what I've heard from their past albums as well as this one, I cannot say that this album was disappointing at all. Is it the same as "Good News for People Who Love Bad News"? No, it definitely isn't, Modest Mouse has definitely embraced a little bit more pop style then they have before. This doesn't make it disappointing by definition, simply because it's different. Carried by strong songs like the uber-catchy Dashboard as well as excellent rock tracks like "People As Places As People" and "Invisible," I'd put this album right up with "Neon Bible" as one of the best recent releases.
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