It’s the songs that stretch out past six minutes that typically showcase the band’s musicianship and allow Isaac Brock and company to delve deeper on tracks. The Lonesome Crowded West‘s epic “Truckers Atlas,” The Moon & Antarctica‘s skyscraping “The Stars Are Projectors” and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank‘s Tom Waits-esque “Spitting Venom” all lean closer to 10 minutes, with “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box” offering the band a similar vehicle.
The latest Strangers to Ourselves cut finds Modest Mouse locked into a Talking Heads vibe – note those polyrhythms buried in the percussion – as Brock does his best David Byrne, quickly riffing, “Bang us together / See what sort of sounds we make right now / The world plays music / Plays skin on teeth inside of the mouth / What sort of sounds, what lovely sounds coming out.” Around the four-minute mark, the track snaps out of its groove and descends into an atmospheric outro complete with angular guitar stabs and Brock’s dubbed-out vocals floating overhead.
“The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box” is the latest track off Modest Mouse’s first album since 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank and follows Strangers to Ourselves songs “Lampshades on Fire,” “Coyotes” and “The Best Room.” The new album was recorded at Brock’s Ice Cream Party studio in Portland, Oregon and was produced by Brock alongside Andrew Weiss, Tucker Martine, Clay Jones, and Brian Deck. Longtime Modest Mouse drummer Jeremiah Green appears on the album along with contributors like the Shins’ James Mercer, who handles background vocals.
While Modest Mouse worked with Outkast’s Big Boi during the process of creating the album, Brock revealed in an impromptu Reddit interview that the results of that collaboration won’t be heard on Strangers to Ourselves when it’s released on March 17th. “Big Boi stuff was something we tried on, before we actually recorded the record, a year and a half before we were done writing,” Brock said. “Probably not going to hear the Big Boi stuff related to this record but a good chance we’ll end up working on something in the future.”