Everywhere And His Nasty Parlour Tricks
By: Eric Greenwood
I suppose that if you"re a Modest Mouse completist and you don"t have a record player (and don"t like paying Japanese import prices) then this new EP is worth your time. However, if you"re just a music fan who appreciates Modest Mouse for its quality songs, then this EP is probably not in your best interest. A rehash of sorts for Modest Mouse fans, Everywhere And His Nasty Parlour Tricks is an horribly titled trip down memory lane. With four tracks culled from the Night On The Sun 12" that was released on Up Records last year (and related Japanese EP on Rebel Beat Factory), this EP offers little in the way of substantive Modest Mouse material. It breaks down like this: two great songs, a remix, an album track rerun, and some filler.
First lets start with the two good songs. Despite its almost eight-minute length, "Night On The Sun" is moody and seductive. Isaac Brock"s lyrics are typically unsettling but palatable through his bizarre rhyming technique and smooth double-tracked vocals. The music is a sparse mix of effects-laden guitars, light melodic bass, and shuffling drums. Building to an emotional instrumental climax with dueling guitars, "Night On The Sun" is prime Modest Mouse, as it bridges the rough edges of early albums with The Moon And Antarctica"s layered paranoia. "You"re The Good Things" is an acoustic pop ditty that bares an uncanny resemblance to former label-mates Built To Spill. Brock is in an uncharacteristically upbeat mood here, showcasing his inner pop star.
Now for the bad news. There"s a reason "Willful Suspension Of Disbelief" didn"t make it onto The Moon And Antarctica- it"s not very good. It resembles the textural atmosphere of the band"s groundbreaking third album, but it fails to conjure up any of the same magic, as it repeats a dull riff ad nauseum. The sporadic, indifferent vocals do little more than serve as an esoteric distraction. Not exactly the way to kick off an eight-song EP, unless your goal is certain catalepsy. "The Air" is engineer Brian Deck"s pastiche of snippets from The Moon And Antarctica in one big, blurry mess, proving that he is indeed a fine producer but a tunesmith not. The band redelivers "I Came As A Rat" in exactly the same form as the album with an exception to the title- here it has an inexplicable parenthetical addition of "long walk off a short dock." Ok.
So far the dollar for good song ratio is not turning out to be a bargain. "3 Inch Horses, Two Faced Monsters" is mildly intriguing as Modest Mouse"s interpretation of gothic country. It"s a fragment at best. Repetitive and stale. You may recall the line "I don"t know but I"ve been told/you never die and you"ll never grow old" from the tale end of "A Different City" off The Moon And Antarctica. "So Much Beauty In Dirt" is another fragment, wherein Brock again showcases his oddly repetitive poetry. Less than ninety seconds long, though, the song barely has time to register much less move you. "Here It Comes" is a peak into a vault that shouldn"t have been opened. Example- sometimes Brock"s lyrics try too hard to be clever ("talk about the future in past tense"). That"s the stuff that will be interesting when assessing the band"s impact long after it"s gone.
Unnecessary and unimpressive, this EP is filler by definition. I"d recommend that you seek out the two good songs for download and save your money. Or, if you really want your money"s worth, just go see the band live.