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Modest Mouse's This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About
Okay, let me start off with a little prerequisite...reviewing music, of any sort (at least in this novice reviewer's opinion) sucks. Maybe that's a little harsh, but sometimes it can be a fucking hassle. Do you judge each song individually? Do you speak of audio quality or just stick to the song structure? Should you favor lyrics over music? At any rate, I suppose I should actually just start this review, and yes this rant was just to get the word count higher.
This being Modest Mouse's first feature-length LP, many didn't know what to expect from them. No one had any idea that they would virtually change the American music landscape, that they would define the indie scene for the majority of the 90's. No, back when Long Drive... first debuted, they were just a little rock band from Washington . When you pop in the album the first thing that blares from your stereo is (as clichéd as this sounds) something you've never heard before. The first song, "Dramamine", hits you like a brick to the nutsack. Even before a lyric is said, strong feelings of wandering and wondering are evoked, these are constant themes throughout the album that really add to it's continuity. It feels as if you're reading a novel with great story and character progression as opposed to a jumble of disconnected songs.
However, once you do hear those aforementioned lyrics...originality strikes again! Do me a favor and bitchslap anyone who calls this "emo". These lyrics are beyond any "my girlfriend stepped on my toe.. god, I wanna die". No, these words ask all the questions everyone is too afraid to ask themselves. I've been listening to this album NON-STOP for about 3+ months and I'm just starting to get the meanings of some of the songs. Now, if that is a complement to Modest Mouse or an insult to myself I cannot say.
The album has great pacing as well, songs can range from "crazy disco freak-out" to "somber contemplation" and it's all spaced pretty well. For example, my personal favorite song, "Tundra/Desert" took "Stairway To Heaven's" M.O. and sticks a speed tablet in it's mouth. Starts off real slow, almost a crawl, then all of a sudden your speakers explode into the fastest song on the disc. "Might" is a fast, short take on randomly having your jaw broken by a complete stranger. "Lounge" is worth noting for it's length and variety alone. Clocking in at near 7 minutes it really runs the gamut pacing-wise. With half being heavily lyrically beat driven, then the other all relatively light instrumental work.
Not to insult the two other members of Modest Mouse who worked on this fine album, but this band IS Isaac Brock. Replace the drummer with a wind-up monkey, bassist with a trout, and this album would only suffer marginally. Some have made comparisons to Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, etc. but Brock isn't a pained artist, or a revolutionary. Brock is more akin to that kid that sits in the corner of the lunch room writing in his notebook, he doesn't say much when asked but if you look in that book of his, you'll see commentary and contemplation of everything that's ever passed his way.
The album (like everything else) contains it's flaws. Some songs will go on for too long, you'll be doing something (such as writing a review) and you'll glance over at the track listing and realize that the same song has been playing for what feels like an eternity, this can cause some tracks to feel forgettable (i.e. Beach Side Property, Exit Does Not Exist). While, I did mention that I like the running theme feel that this album presents, after awhile you do wish Brock would have tackled some different subject matter. Drifting can only account for so much. The only other problem I had was that the last "block" of songs (Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset, Make Everyone Happy/Mechanical Birds, and Space Travel Is Boring) all sound very similar causing them to really meld together into one very long, dragged out song. This ends the album with a bad taste in your mouth, leaving you wanting more from the finale of such a fantastic piece.
All in all, Modest Mouse's debut album turned out to be one of their best. Only to be surpassed by their sophomoric attempt The Lonesome Crowded West . While, their most recent album has disappointed many fans due to it's change in sounds (more of a Hispanic/ska influence, 'lotta horns!) and the fact of their "mainstreaming", that's not the place for this. Minor flaws and elitist mentality aside, This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About is one of the seminal album of the nineties and should be treated as such.