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Album Review: The Golden Casket by Modest Mouse

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Modest Mouse is a rock band from Washington. While getting their start in the 90s, they didn't hit mainstream success until the 2000s with albums like The Moon & Antarctica and Good News for People Who Love Bad News. Even though Strangers to Ourselves, their previous album, had mixed reviews, it was definitely a favorite of mine. Now, six years later, they return with their seventh studio album titled The Golden Casket.

The first track from the album is Fuck Your Acid Trip. It starts out with some distorted and sped up string parts. Eventually instrumentation starts to build up to give it more texture, but there are certain sections where the entire instrumentation changes at a minutes notice. I'm also feeling some The Black Keys influence with the blues guitar aesthetic. Based on the lyrics of the track, this could be an unwanted or an unenjoyable trip and he just wants to go home.

We Are Between wasn't something I would have expected from them since its sounds like a laid back, beach sort of vibe. I'm getting a lot of the same vibes as Spinoza from Generationals, at least with the beginning guitar part. However, I'm really enjoying this sound from them, which could be a sign of maturing. Digging into Isaac's thoughts, he talks about how this is a love track and just existing together at the same time.
 
We're Lucky marks one of the shorter tracks on the album since it's under three minutes in length. It's a lot quieter and opens up with some light electronic notes. It eventually builds up with drums, vocals, and guitars, but it still remains relatively quiet until the end of the track when we get the blaring brass section. Some of the lyrics, however, are pointing to a continuation of the previous track since they are mentioning the stars from the previous track.

After some percussive beats to open up the track, the guitars and vocals finally come in on Walking and Running. It's still pretty simplistic, minus the few 'space' influenced sound effects that we hear. However, I do love the build up to the chorus of the track and the loud chorus of vocals, which was somewhat reminiscent of We Are Between. Based on the lyrics of the track, it seems to talk about how some people shouldn't really say the things that they think about, due to being offensive.

Wooden Soldiers marks the longest track on the album, just clocking in under six minutes in length. It starts out lightly with some interesting percussive beats and odd guitar strumming, but that's what makes some of their work exciting. With an already stripped back track, it gets really quiet about halfway through for a quick second, but then the vocals come back in much louder. The two minute outro is definitely the highlight of this track.

Transmitting Receiving opens up with a quiet acoustic guitar that sounds like it's in the distance. It eventually comes in a bit louder, but we also get the vocals that just sounds like a lot of different words being thrown out at once. While it does look like a bunch of gibberish stuff being thrown out, Isaac talks about this track being the 'tinfoil hat' section. He gets into a lot of government conspiracies that have been thrown around before.

The Sun Hasn't Left opens up with a light bell sound, but gradually gets more electronic as the notes continue to trail on. It also gets more glitzy and 'pop-rock' influenced the further we get to the chorus section. Compared to previous tracks, this one definitely has more unique instrumentation choices and provides more than what we've heard. By looking at the lyrics, this track takes a more optimistic look at life and to find the joy in things.

Lace Your Shoes seems to be another track that draws from Isaac being a parent. It opens up quietly with light instrumentation, just like some previous tracks. The first half of the track seems to point out all of the things he's waiting to see, and all the things he loves about his youngest child. He's also wishing the best and that there's still something left for his child. It seems like it's another optimistic track to add to the album.

Never Fuck A Spider On The Fly takes on an electronic sound as it opens up, but the tone of the album quickly changes after the introduction as we get a bass, some strings notes and the vocals. I'm not really too sure what to think about this track since nothing is really sticking out to me. While the title of the track is a bit strange, what I'm gathering from the lyrics is that there's a 'web' or place where everyone will belong.

Leave A Light On opens up with several electronic influences, but also has a decent bass part going on. As the track progresses, more electronic things come into the picture, even a vocoder for some different vocal effects. It also seems like a fun track for them to record based on the emotions I'm hearing on this one. With the pandemic going on the past year and a half, Modest Mouse talks about how it's easy for people to feel trapped in their homes.

Japanese Trees is another beach-like track, similar to We Are Between. Unfortunately the beach feeling is overpowered at times when more instruments are added on, especially the overpowering electric guitar. When the track slows down during the chorus, there's still a somewhat tropical feeling. This track seems to talk about traveling, however, it also throws in the aspect about when or why can't they can't leave.

The final track on the album is Back To The Middle. It opens up with a few lone guitars and an easy going drumbeat. We also have some vocal effects thrown on top of the vocals once they come in on the track. The instrumental breaks during the track are great, but the moments leading up to them just seem lackluster and wanting more. I would say the instrumental breaks make up for the lack of excitement before. Other than that, Isaac talks about how this track was created around the time of the previous record, Strangers to Ourselves.

Overall Rating: 7/10
Favorite Tracks: We Are Between, Walking and Running, Wooden Soldiers, The Sun Hasn't Left, Back To The Middle
 
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