The Lonesome Crowded West

[a]Modest Mouse[/a] are the sound of the Pacific Northwest - this is music as rugged as the area it comes from....

The Lonesome Crowded West

6 / 10 Modest Mouse are the sound of the Pacific Northwest - this is music as rugged as the area it comes from. Accordingly, not since the inception of Neil Young's biography has the word 'buffalo' been so often used in rock.

And like the country from whence it comes, it is endless. At times a marathon of uneasy listening, it changes tack more often than Pavement learning to sail, while the Mice play like Sonic Youth really trying to stretch the avant-garde.

Such weirdness might be admirable, but road doodles like 'Trucker's Atlas' or the fiddley hell of 'Jesus Christ Was An Only Child' are not. Top marks for colossal blasphemy though.

But whilst at their worst they're not happy unless changing tempo so many times they leave you feeling seasick, at their best they are a head-spinning amalgamation of post-punk, post-grunge, post-lo-fi influences. So 'Lounge (Closing Time)' bumbles along like a lumberjack Smiths on a drinking session, while the guitars of 'Convienent Parking' (sic) border on the hypnotic.

Lyrically it's superb, detailing an American nightmare of drunk cowboys, urban dystopia, endless trailer parks and identikit shopping malls, whilst never resorting to a Jerry Springer-like snort. Reigning in the self-indulgent excesses would give these snapshots of the modern West a worthy musical accompaniment.

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