Album Reviews

Modest Mouse: Night On The Sun (Glacial Pace)

modest mouse

Modest Mouse
Night On The Sun
Glacial Pace

I’ve always been somewhat mixed about Modest Mouse. Though their 1990s output garnered them a devoted, obsessive following, I wasn’t particularly a fan; although I liked a few of their songs, their albums seemed too long, unfocused, and, well, a bit overhyped. But I couldn’t deny the charm of songs like “Never-Ending Math Equation,” “All Night Diner,” and “Sleepwalk.” Their post millennium work, however, was astonishingly good; their major label debut album, The Moon & Antartica was impressive, and their platinum-selling follow-up Good News For People Who Like Bad News was a damn-near perfect record. At the time, the news of the band’s signing to Epic was shocking; the “sellout” charges were quick, but ultimately Modest Mouse knew what they were doing, even though it initially seemed that the band’s signing would prove to be the disaster many predicted; it didn’t sell well, and received mixed reviews from fans.

When the Japanese EP Night On The Sun appeared in 1999, it was met with great anticipation; it offered the band’s first new music since signing, promising tracks from their forthcoming album, and for many fans, it was a relief. It showed that the band hadn’t made any sacrifices to what had made it so beloved; trippy, long songs with abstract lyrics sung in the unique style of Isaac Brock. Three of the five songs would appear on Moon & Antarctica in somewhat cleaner form; featured here, album tracks “Dark Center Of The Universe” and “Lives” are rougher in their final versions. They’re not demos, but they lack the polish and sheen of the final album. “Wild Pack of Family Dogs” is the same version as the album track. The EP’s two unique tracks, “Night On The Sun” and “You’re The Good Things,” are also rough versions, different still from the versions that would appear a year later on Up Records’ EP of the same name.

It’s nice that Modest Mouse is reissuing their more obscure and rare records on their label; it’s nice to finally hear this EP legitimately, and without having to pay three figures for it. Night On The Sun served to show that they knew what they were doing when they went against the grain of indie rock public opinion and signed to a major label; they were going to move up, but they weren’t going to change one bit. Seems like they knew what they were doing, even if the purists scoffed…

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