Modest Mouse Is Beautiful And Profane On 2000’s ‘The Moon And Antarctica”

Ah, the year 2000. The music world was quite different then. I think I was using Napster, or maybe like Kazaa or Limewire at the time. People still bought CDs. We weren’t streaming. I feel like popular music at the time was boy bands and rap rock, both of which suck. There were a few albums I considered writing about for 2000. My first thought was Figure 8 by Elliott Smith. Then, I considered Fevers and Mirrors by Bright Eyes. Both were significant to me not long after the year 2000. In the end, though, I had to go with an album that probably reached a little further into the culture: The Moon & Antarctica& Antarctic by Modest Mouse.

No, this is not the album with “Float On” on it. It’s the album before that. The Moon & Antarctica is sort of the transition point for Isaac Brock’s band. The sound is more, shall we say, accessible. Me personally, I love the early albums. Give me “Beach Side Property” any day of the week. However, I also think The Moon & Antarctica is a great album, mixing pretty-sounding contemplative songs with punchy, screechy tunes that go for the throat. The album opens with “3rd Planet” a dreamy, if grim, song and basically ends with Isaac Brock screaming at us that human beings aren’t made of anything but “water and shit.”

There is not a single song on this album I don’t like at least a little bit. My friend used to always make his AOL Instant Messenger away message, “Laugh hard, it’s a long way to the bank” from “Paper Thin Walls,” which is a great line. The strumming acoustic-style “Gravity Rides Everything” is beautiful and sad. “Wild Pack of Family Dogs” is insane. Every song on this album is at least interesting. I like to listen to The Moon & Antarctica in its entirety when I can. Pitchfork called it the sixth-best album of the 2000s. That’s high for me, but it’s certainly in my top 20.

Soon enough, Modest Mouse would hit us with “Float On,” which had an actual hook and ended up on a Kidz Bop album. That’s a good song on a good album. I don’t knock it just because it was popular. It’s just not on the level of The Moon & Antarctica. Not that Brock likely cares. I’m sure he was laughing all the way to the bank. I just hope he laughed hard.

Chris Morgan
Author: Chris Morgan

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