Modest Mouse

Strangers to Ourselves

(Columbia)

According to Modest Mouse humans are “sharks in sheep’s clothing”, the “dirtiest thing” the world has created, “tourists in our own heads”.

Isaac Brock utters these phrases with grim relish, implicating himself in the anthropogenic destruction that preoccupies Strangers to Ourselves, the US band’s first album in eight years.

“Well, we’re the human race/We’re going to party at this place/And then move on,” he sings in “Lampshades on Fire”, demented funk-rock evoking the Red Hot Chili Peppers dumbly cavorting amid the apocalypse.

Brock’s lyrics throughout are superb, an alt-rock Jonathan Swift, while the music manages to keep pace with the words (which hasn’t always the case with Modest Mouse).

Abrasive tones recall Captain Beefheart but solid melodies and rhythms prevent the songs growing too alienating.

We are hooked, even as we are invited to despair at ourselves.

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