Album Review: Modest Mouse – No One’s First and You’re Next [EP]

“We all try harder as the days run out.”

There’s some truth to this line from the end of “Perpetual Motion Machine”, which is just one of eight new tracks from the Seattle indie kings Modest Mouse. The band had been going strong for around a decade before they picked up much deserved notoriety, and No One’s First and You’re Next is a look back at the two albums that got them there. I wonder though, are they feeling the end of the line or is this just an obvious attempt to stir our interest once again?

The EP’s eight tracks consist of polished up B-sides from 2004’s Good News for People who Love Bad News and 2007’s We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. Most are, for a good reason, passable when laid out against what made the final cut, and should be taken with a grain of salt. The songs feel heavy on the Good News side with a few obvious nods to We Were Dead, which end up being the head turners out of the bunch. The good moments are few, but they are good enough to make the EP just a little worth it.

The record’s lead off, and first single, “Satellite Skin” falls into the territory of “Float On” in a tiresome way. It’s an attempt at a rock anthem that’s only good the first time, but by the time the frat bro’s pick up on it, you’ll be ready to throw it out the window. It’s a deadly way to kick off a record. Later on, “The Whale Song” presents itself with potential as a jammed out rock track that dusts off the old Mouse of Long Drive for a hefty six minutes. It’s the threaded guitar solo, however, that drags on. Quite frankly, it sounds like a dying whale, and ultimately kills the track. Isaac Brock has made the slightly off kilter note bends work in the past, but this time it gets annoying.

“History Sticks to Your Feet” and “I’ve Got It Almost”, are filler, and could have been altogether left out. The kind of creativity we have come to expect from the band is nowhere to be found with these two.

As for those few high points, the first hits early with “Guilty Cocker Spaniels”. The nod to Doug Martsch packs a punch with its quaint picking mixed with thick distorted sliding chords. “Perpetual Motion Machine” brings in the horns from We Were Dead for a lazy jazz feel as background music to Isaac Brock’s story telling and philosophizing. To the band’s advantage, anytime M.M. picks up a banjo magic seems to happen. “King Rat” features a sleek introduction, with a bouncy banjo line to back the guitars and cello draws. “Autumn Beds” uses the instrument to help sing a quiet lullaby with its notes dancing around the simple strums. Either tracks could have been close calls to making the final cut, which makes them worth the effort.

It’s been two years since we’ve been issued a new record from Modest Mouse. While this EP technically counts, the songs feel old before they even get off the ground. It only brings up the obvious question, where is that next record?

Check Out:
“Satelitte Skin”
“Guilty Cocker Spaniels”

No One’s First, and You’re Next

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