Modest Mouse, No One’s First, And You’re Next EP
A brilliant sketchbook that sees Brock grappling with unexpected success
Isaac Brock's never been the most optimistic guy. When life gives him lemons, he makes a gin and tonic strong enough to kill a woolly mammoth. The Modest Mouse frontman's lo-fi junkyard-rock is a study in frustration and hopelessness, with feral rants about dead-end jobs, never-ending math equations, and road trips that end up right back where they started. But if Brock's worried about going nowhere, he's even more scared of getting somewhere. This brilliant sketchbook of an EP, which compiles the b-sides and discarded tracks from the band's twin breakthroughs Good News for People Who Love Bad News and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, finds Brock dealing uneasily with success. And that anxiety suits his self-deprecating wit perfectly. On the great guitar-scuffle jig "Guilty Cocker Spaniels," he jokes about his raison d'etre: "I guess I'll just have to play and play / Until I'm out of cash." The sharp-shooting hillbilly rave-up "King Rat" finds him almost apologizing for having rock stardom thrust upon him: "Anytime I tried an honest job, well the till had a hole!" he wisecracks. But all that futility just makes him want to do something — it's telling that even these "castoffs" rank up there with the band's best work. On "Perpetual Motion Machine," a heartfelt tribute to America's overworked and under-medicated, he's more worked up then ever, his voice getting more and more frantic. "We all try harder as the days run out," he yelps. True, that — and no one more than Brock himself.