Gravity Rides Everything

The Moon & Antarctica by Modest Mouse

Because it is my friend Cindy's birthday today, and her favorite band is Modest Mouse, I decided to review The Moon & Antarctica. I distinctly remember first hearing this album sitting on a lunch table out in the courtyard of our high school (my friends and I looking a lot like a collection of misfits). 

I've never truly listened to this album; not that day in the courtyard and not when I was trying to force myself to review another album. In truth, I never really heard it at all until last night, sitting with the lyrics and nothing on my mind. The lovely guitar strumming opening of "3rd Planet" caught me wildly off guard, and the lyrics completely snapped me straight out of my musical funk.

The album is truly significant because of its beautiful lyrics, at once deep and introspective, but cloaked in what can now be called classic Isaac Brockisms (that is, wonderfully cryptic but poetic and mind-blowing). In fact, if I were to attempt to call attention to all of my favorite lines and all of my favorite songs, this review would become so long that it would look is if I only copied and pasted the lyrics here. If any generalizations can be used at all, the lyrics generally manage to be existential and deep, yet painfully personal.

If there is an overlying concept being explored in the album, it could easily be what they shout in "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes": "Does anybody know a way that a body could get away?" The album opens with "3rd Planet" and the feeling that "the universe is shaped exactly like the earth/If you go straight long enough you'll end up where you were". This feeling of being trapped is expounded in "Gravity Rides Everything", in which everything feels inescapable. The album explores the themes of feeling trapped and wanting to find a way of escaping that feeling. Even so, there is the problem of feeling alone; in "The Cold Part", Brock sings "I stepped down as the president of Antarctica/Can't blame me, don't blame me, don't/So long to this sad, sad part of this world".

For me, I have never had much of an opinion on what the "best" Modest Mouse sound has been; whether it is raw and powerful, like their earlier albums, introspective and moving like The Moon & Antarctica, or glossy pop like We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, I have never really felt either way about their sound. Singularly, The Moon & Antarctica stands by itself as a very beautiful album, and one of my favorites out of this project.

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