History: This third album from Modest Mouse would cause a stir among the fans and critics as they progressed to a major label. Some reviewers would give the album very negative feedback while many would rate it very positively. The band members would encounter their share of problems while recording including an attack on the lead singer that left him without the ability to sing for some time. Knowing their fans the band did take their time to let everyone know that becoming more mainstream with their label wouldn't change the music they enjoy performing though.
Vocals: Isaac Brock is on lead vocals, and sometimes his vocals worked and other times the album does slip into some emo sounds. I would say the sounds of 2000 heavily contributed to the style of the album though as it was much of something that relates to back to many tunes I listened to as a teen. It's still got that raw sound to the vocals, so for the fans who loved the more indie vibe of the band it was still present. There are times the song slips away from the more rock sounds to he acoustic foundations like in songs "Lives" where Brock's vocals sound a lot better and more natural.
Instrumentals: There are other contributions from other musicians for the album, but the core of the group is only three guys, Isaac Brock, Jeremiah Green, and Eric Judy. Brock plays the guitars well, and captures the vibe of the songs well. Jeremiah Green is on bass, and Eric Judy is on drums. The instrumentals do sound raw, and while I think a more polished sound would have worked better to increase the emotions of the songs, I believe the guys stuck more so to what fans were hoping for, and what they enjoyed performing. They definitely sound like the band I heard later on in 2004, but I would say that fans of this instrumental performance probably felt disconnected from their later work that sounded a lot more mainstream.
Recording: Even though the band was on a major label, which was very different than what they worked for in the past, they still maintained their indie quality. This probably can mostly be attributed to the rough studio they recorded in. Though for fans I'm sure the album is just as enjoyable to listen to now, it does sound like very much the sounds of the early 2000s. It's not quite like what I listened to at the time, but it does closely resemble it. Some of my favorites songs though turned out to be the slower performances of the band instead of the more raw rock sounds.
Modest Mouse impressed fans with this album to say the least, and at the end of the day that is what matters. Fans would vote this to number seventeen on Pitchfork's people voted list. It has it's strengths and songs that spur emotion. The album is very long with seventeen songs to span over the length of it, and some that hit eight minutes long.
Rating 7 of 10.