Everywhere and his Nasty Parlor Tricks
Modest Mouse singer-guitarist Isaac Brock's favorite subjects are distance and travel, and the suspension of time that goes along with them. In his songs, the world is an endlessly cycling existential horror show — two different songs on this mini LP include the lyric "I don't know but I been told/You never die and you never grow old." Partially recorded at the same time as last year's The Moon and Antarctica (and including a remake of that record's schizophrenic "I Came as a Rat"), Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks is Modest Mouse's sparsest and strangest release, a parched, alien beauty illuminated by a web of little guitar solos that flicker like heat lightning. These one- and two-chord grooves (plus a blurry instrumental megamix, "The Air") are blessed with a rhythm section that can tap gently at a single note until it's driven in far enough. Aside from a burst of death disco at the end of "You're the Good Things," the band stays cool and spaced-out, but its dry throb is the wind beneath Brock's gnarled wings. Songs drift through the panoramic calm of Everywhere until they run aground, after a minute and a half or five times that long, while Brock drizzles out vinegary guitar lines and reels off nightmare images and poker-faced jokes in his strained lisp — his idea of a compliment is "You're the extra ton of cash on my sinking life raft."