For those of you keeping track, yes, this is the third Modest Mouse article I have written in a row. If that may seem weird to you all, imagine how I feel. Little did I know 4 weeks ago, when I first reviewed “Lampshades on Fire” and “Coyotes”, that the band would release another single just two weeks later with “The Best Room”. With three singles out and only a few weeks left before the release of their album Strangers to Ourselves, I assumed the band would just ride it out and let those songs generate the hype they wanted. To my disbelief, just this past week I saw on my Facebook newsfeed that the band was set on having a surprise release of a song to reddit users on February 16th. For the sake of consistency, here’s my opinion on “The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box”.
Right from the start, “The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box” lets us know where it will fall in the spectrum of Modest Mouse. With a choppy beat and upbeat tempo, the first thing that comes to mind is its similarity to “The Best Room” and “Lampshades on Fire”. Therefore, a lot of the shortcomings I felt with those songs I felt with the new song as well, namely a kind of forgetable-ness stemming from its somewhat poppy and familiar sound. However, with the new release, I did feel like Modest Mouse took more time to let their ideas play out, which is noticeable in the length of the song itself. The last two minutes of the song features a steady drumbeat, eerie horns, and different guitar and synth sounds weaving in and out of the fabric of the groove. Although quite different from the extended solos and instrumental sections I discussed two weeks ago, I still appreciated the change and thought it added much needed flavor to their songs on Strangers to Ourselves. There has been some buzz of this song sounding similar to Talking Heads, and that is an interesting comparison to make for a band spawned from the early 90s lo-fi era. I think this song is more engaging than “The Best Room” and “Lampshades on Fire”, so perhaps this is a sign that the rest of the album will be less predictable and straightforward than those releases. We will just have to see when the other 11/15 songs of the album come out on March 17th. Or maybe we will find out a little more next week. Who knows?