http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/57ba70b3c7e824b9f292473bf48c52081eec2285.jpg We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Modest Mouse

We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
March 7, 2007

Wrapping a wordy, darkly whimsical title around a bunch of songs many will find catchy and none will find pretty, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank takes after Modest Mouse's other four albums, even with guitarist Johnny Marr added to the equation. Like everything the band has released since signing with Epic in the teeth of a millennial panic, it's louder and somewhat less twisty than the group's indie output. But where song lengths diminished to four minutes on 2000's The Moon and Antarctica and three on their 2004 breakthrough, Good News for People Who Love Bad News, here they're up to four and a half. Cut to a shot of Isaac Brock just not giving a fuck.

Epic hopes there's another "Float On" here to goose sales. This is unlikely, not just because novelties always are but because "Float On" found Brock in an atypically live-and-let-live mood. Usually he's more fuck-me, let's-get-lost or oh-shit-not-again. Insofar as his latest lyrics make sense at all, they yoke images of failure and frustration to the loud and the catchy — thus rendering failure and frustration more fun, although after five albums this victory is getting too theoretical. One "Float On" candidate is the instantly hooky "We've Got Everything," with its "we know, we know" backup and, well, its "left you dying on the floor" finale; another is "Steam Engenius," which tosses in some woo-hoos on its way to "stasis is what you got." That's what Brock can tell his label, anyway. Fact is, he's a dour guy with a lot of talent and a good hustle who's been mining the same vein of meaning for more than a decade. That's a long time — maybe too long.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Bird on a Wire”

    Leonard Cohen | 1969

    While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

    More Song Stories entries »