We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
The band that brought indie rock into your living room has continued its march into MTV territory while still assaulting its sensibilities. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank continues in the direction of the breakthrough 2004 album Good News For People Who Love Bad News by mixing pop songs into the band's traditionally harder sound. The single "Dashboard," makes easy listening for even your parents' ears, and won't quiet suspicion that, like the monster hit "Float On," it was released to make the band accessible. Whether a strategic or artistic move, the album as a whole is still as uncompromising as Modest Mouse's early records. In fact, this album, like Good News, contains a couple songs more adverse to commercial taste than anything before. Opener "March Into the Sea" is like the personification of death in a half-mad sea captain, barking and laughing in your face. Likewise, "Steam Engenius," which speaks of robot messiahs, or is it Armageddon—this isn't clear—throws the listener into a mechanical (anti)utopia which stimulates and disorientates like an acid trip in a factory. Though they're putting out some savoury pop songs, made extra sweet by the presence of the Shins' James Mercer on back-up vocals and the addition of Smiths legend Johnny Marr on guitar, the Mouse continues its march into absurdity.