Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica

28 Apr

With The Moon & Antarctica, Modest Mouse takes another bold step toward the mature, refined sound we hear from them today. Across the album, dynamics are crisper and the frequent transitions between the songs’ characteristically disparate parts are slicker – yet Modest Mouse continues to experiment wildly with sound, this time delving into backward sampling and a broad variation of vocal harmonies and vocal mixing effects.

The Moon & Antarctica also plumbs new thematic depths: as suggested in the album’s name, song titles and lyrics frequently reference universal physics, space exploration and the despairing insignificance these fields of inquiry reflect onto life on Earth. It is unclear whether the echoing barrage of double entendres, “The Stars Are Projectors”, refers to celebrities or celestial bodies – most likely both. It concludes,

Was there a need for creation?
That was hidden in a Math equation
And that’s this:
WHERE DO CIRCLES BEGIN?

while “Lives” begins:

Everyone’s afraid of their own life
If you could be anything you want
I bet you’d be disappointed, am I right?

 Vividly encapsulating the new, eerie undertone Modest Mouse takes on in this album is “The Cold Part”, which could now be interpreted as a bizarre prophecy of global warming:

So long to this cold, cold part of the world
So long to this bone-bleached part of the world

I stepped down as president of Antarctica
Can’t blame me; don’t blame me; don’t.

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