#19 Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica (2000)
If I was making a list of the worst album covers of the decade, this badboy would score a lot higher. What sort of an offensive mess is it anyway? It looks like a shitty programme of events from an international irrigation solutions conference, or a still frame from a Genesis video. The sort of album cover you would cross the road to avoid.
Number 19 eh? I wrote a lot about William Basinski and The Shins. Now, I'm worrying myself about having to give every other album on my list a similar depth of appraisal - something I just cannae do. So The Moon and Antarctica is going to receive one of my shorter posts (believe me, there are some very long ones waiting in the wings). Isaac Bro, I hope you are down with me on this one (testing, cos William Basinski took an interest in the post about him). And forgive me in advance for saying this - in spite of the obvious magnificence of 'Float On' - Modest Mouse lost their way after this album.
So what can I say about The Moon and Antarctica? First, it is properly gorgeous; the drugsick flanged-out guitars on 'gravity rides everything' are, to me, the most satisfying and most pure example of a certain mid-nineties American indie sound. It's cosmic guitar...coupled with man troubles, grief, and the upside down logic of one very fucked up and very talented dude's inner life. It was real, y'know; like before the Arcade Fire showed up and convinced the world that having a second cousin die in your family was good enough reason to record a disengenuous emo album for emotionally retarded adults.
I think The Moon and Antarctica is about delirium tremens (among a lot of other far out shit you'd be hard pressed to decode properly), or coming off drugs in a hard way - including all the emotionally draining and odd revelations that go with that state of being. It is a rehab album. But an interesting one. Paranoia, tiny cities made of ashes, rats, gravity turned inside out - it's ferocious lyrically. It also seems to have a sort of scientific script of its own (Hi, I'm Isaac, I am detoxing, these are the new rules of natural science: I can get away with them because my music is so arresting and my lyrics are kinda rad).
Another album tomorrow. I Promise.
MP3: Modest Mouse-Gravity rides everything