Modest Mouse – No One’s First, and You’re Next Modest Mouse – No One’s First, and You’re Next

Modest Mouse - No One's First and You're Next

Modest Mouse - No One's First and You're Next

They always say that B-sides are B-sides for a reason. If that’s to be accepted then, “No One’s First And You’re Next” is already off on a bad footing. Consisting of unreleased tracks from Modest Mouse’s last two albums, “Good News For People Who Love Long Album Titles”, and “We Were Dead Before We Wrote A Good Album Title”, No One’s First…clocks in at around thirty five minutes of what is generally speaking, familiar territory. Having said that, even B-sides are exciting if, like me, your favourite band is in fact Modest Mouse.

All of what’s on offer here manages to reference the band’s previous two albums, at times a little too strongly. First single “Satellite Skin” shows the traditional pop song structure that the band had started to traverse on “We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank”, but without any of the hooks or instant catchiness of said album. It feels a bit like the band are playing it a bit too safe, or something. Having said that it’s a grower, and is one of those songs you still tap your foot to despite yourself. “Guilty Cocker Spaniels” rattles along with Brock providing vocals not dissimilar to a deep south farmer that’s taken a shine to the works of Eminem. Quirky vocals are delivered over some sparkling acoustic guitars and gentle bass, before he gets his insane megaphone schtick on at the end.

“Autumn Beds” and “The Whale Song” are the gem duo of this EP. The former comes across as a genuinely lovely acoustic/banjo picked ballad, but is in fact about darker times, “They said guilty so many times/All I heard was just the buzzing lights/ As sure as lead sinks we’re the same/ We’re just more laundry that they need to hang.” Despite its somber lyrics it’s a great tune….and my mum likes it. (Seriously.) “The Whale Song” is quite possibly the Mouse’s finest work to date. In much the same vein as “Dramamine”, and almost certainly written during the We Were Dead…era, a queezy seasick riff builds and builds before cutting out for the song’s bleak vocals. It’s hauntingly done, and plays like a sort of Greek tragedy, “Instead of seeing a neighbor out/God I wish I would’ve found a way out/It’s the last time/We were happy, ever happy”

“Perpetual Motion Machine” and “History Sticks To Your Feet” are undoubtedly the weak links here, not presenting anything not already done, the former I find plain annoying, the latter a bit pointless. The EPs last two tracks, I have had the pleasure of listening to for the last couple of months. With “King Rat” having originally being released in 2007, and “I’ve Got It All (Most)” in 2004, hardcore fans may be slightly disappointed. Both tracks deliver reasonably well, with King Rat being a deliciously filthy hoedown similar in style to the finale of “Parting Of The Sensory.” The EP closer is slightly beige, but Brock’s deranged vocals towards the end will at least make it memorable for some.

I personally find it odd that the band has created so much buzz about the release of an EP of B-sides, having already released three vinyl singles from No One’s First…The material here doesn’t really have the strength to withstand the expectation of a fresh release, if the band had simply humbly released a B-side EP, we might all have been happily surprised and be singing their praises till the cows came home. As it is, this ain’t the case. Having said that, if this is the quality of material that doesn’t make the grade for Modest Mouse, the future looks good for any new material.

Track List:

1. Satellite Skin
2. Guilty Cocker Spaniels
3. Autumn Beds
4. The Whale Song
5. Perpetual Motion Machine
6. History Sticks To Your Feet
7. King Rat
8. I’ve Got It All (Most)

Modest Mouse - No One's First, and You're Next, reviewed by Lemon on 2009-08-06T10:54:18-07:00 rating 3.5 out of 5

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