Flush It Friday: Bad News For People Who Love Good News For People Who Love Bad News


It still sucks!

It’s been 20 years since Modest Mouse obliterated the very idea of indie rock with 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News, the band’s second album for giant label Epic and first to go platinum (selling over 1.5 million copies). Just typing these words, I am sure you are scratching at your ears, trying to pull the agitating, grating melody of lead single “Float On” out of your now-rattled mind. For people who loved Modest Mouse at the time, it was a moment of exuberance and recognition that gave way, after at least a while, to exhaustion. “Float On” became just another radio-pop jingle, the rest of the album floated [on :meatball: ~Roldy] into oblivion, and any and all goodwill the band maintained from their original stretch of albums was summarily executed with 2007’s downright awful We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Still, the album remains highly regarded, with a 3.8 on Sputnik and a 4.5 on Allmusic, as well as almost 400 million Spotify listens of “Float On” to boot.

I found myself dipping my toes into this tepid pool earlier in the week, as I’ve been swan-diving into and luxuriating in the deep waters of The Moon and Antarctica almost daily for most of the month of February. Something about my birthday brought back images of myself in 8th or 9th grade homeroom, discman on the desk, and my young teenaged self attempting to parse out why the three-song run of “The Cold Part,” “Alone Down There,” and the pitch-perfect “The Stars are Projectors” connected so viscerally with my shifty, hard-to-pin-down suburban angst. I remember feeling so mature in those moments. I’ve of course also spent time with Lonesome Crowded West, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, and the excellent compilation Building Nothing out of Something, but I more or less cannot stop fawning over The Moon and Antarctica. It’s as good as it gets.

But this isn’t about Modest Mouse’s magnum opus. This is about Good News, an album I promise I did not reflexively hate. I bought the CD the day the album came out! I knew the whole thing. I liked it. I really liked it. Not as much as anything that came before it, but I thought it was a good, sensible, reasonable, delightful, enjoyable return for the band. Oh, how wrong I was.

Listening to it now, the wearisome flatness of the album strikes me most. It is a chore to get through an album where most of the songs are barely four minutes long. Of course, the band had some major shakeups between the two records, most notably losing founding drummer Jeremiah Green, but they also added Murder City Devils‘ guitarist Dann Gallucci. Green’s loss is apparent, as the rhythms of Good News stay too simple and too stock to pick you up, even when the band goes waltzing as they are wont to do far too often. Gallucci’s addition, however, is less apparent, bringing nothing of his other band’s edge and catchiness to the dull affair. Sure, Good News sounds like a Modest Mouse album, but it sounds like Modest Mouse making a Modest Mouse album—a simulacra of themselves rather than a forward-looking assay. Isaac Brock’s delivery has always been slightly off-key, slightly out-of-breath, bouncing, and unpredictable, but his repeated forays into the discography of Tom Waits are, 20 years later, rather embarrassing. “The Devil’s Workday,” in particular, sounds like a college town cover band doing their worst impression of Small Change or Nighthawks at the Diner.

Some kind of weird, clanking, pogo-sticking, post-Talking Heads nonsense is all over the record. “Dance Hall” and “Bukowski,” two tracks I distinctly remember loving in 2004, are bad imitations and schlocky. Things go wrong even when the band wants to be somber and thoughtful. Opener “The World at Large” should work as an obvious link back to Moon, but it sits there, affectless and unmoving, as listless as a Postal Service d-side. (Don’t get it twisted: I love Give Up.) This is true for other songs that seem, at first blush, indistinguishable from what made Lonesome Crowded West so compelling. Something, however, is always amiss. Later tracks “Blame it on the Tetons” and “Black Cadillacs” sound like other bands writing Modest Mouse songs; or, rather, Modest Mouse writing other bands’ songs. (“Black Cadillacs” has some weird Against Me folk-punk passages that are more disorientating than they are thrilling, making a mess of a track that could have been totally fine.) Though I know I seem like an embittered old fan wanting things to sound like they once were, I did not intend to land here. I was hoping to go back and erase any unfounded ill will or any misplaced aggression about the album that had crept in unfairly in the last two decades. Alas! ‘Twas not to be. Apparently I was, by 2007, correct about this record.

So: let’s rename it The Loathsome Schmaltz of Isaac Brock and be fuckin’ done with it.

And with all that out of the way, we can take a hefty, hefty flush!

It’s Stick! It’s Roldy! It’s all the news and grooves you can use.

Prof. Guanaco got low ‘n slow with Spanish death-doomers Ornamentos del Miedo:

Track Premiere: Ornamentos del Miedo – “Escapando a Través de la Tierra”

Joe and Jordan studied the great tomes of chud esoterica for Toilet Radio, finding it all very wanting in everything but its supreme chud-ness:

Toilet Radio 481 – The Bardo’s and Bardon’ts of Heavy Metal

Roldy ripped us apart with Nuclear Tomb‘s terrifyingly sick new single:

Track Premiere: Nuclear Tomb – “Terror Labyrinthian”

BGK reviewed the new Midnight, and we all mostly agreed we like other bands more!

Review: Midnight – Hellish Expectations

New contributor Pingu Davis took a stab at the latest from Gregory Uhlmann:

Review: Gregory Uhlmann – Small Day

Suck down these delicious Minis like they’re fuckin’ KFC Double Down Glizzies and pay for your choices:

Mini Reviews From Around the Bowl (2/15/24)

The Iron Goddess of Wearing Lilac Pants hit us with the phattest, most sinful track of the week thanks to Baron:

Track Premiere: Baron – “Hands of Sin…”

Now that’s one steaming pile of content. Revisit any posts you missed. Hop in the comment sections and share your thoughts with the contributors. Once you’ve done that, get real personal about those GBUs below. As always, be well, my beloved toileteers. Bless it!

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