Modest Mouse – Reflecting on the 20th Anniversary of “The Moon & Antarctica” - The Album Came Out on July 13, 2000 | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Modest Mouse – Reflecting on the 20th Anniversary of “The Moon & Antarctica”

The Album Came Out on July 13, 2000

Jun 12, 2020 By Matt the Raven
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Twenty years after its initial release, The Moon & Antarctica remains the pivotal release that opened the floodgates to success and helped propel Modest Mouse from Pacific Northwest cult heroes to international indie rock luminaries.    

Through hundreds of raucous live shows and two album releases, Modest Mouse achieved regional cult status with an alternative yet honest rock sound that was both buzzy and cacophonous but also an acquired taste. Their third full-length, The Moon & Antarctica, saw them jump to a major label, tone down the frenzy, and concentrate more on the songwriting without compromising their unique strain of experimental, lo-fi post rock.    

With the chaos in check, the band was free to explore a wider scope of sound that resulted in well-orchestrated tracks with angular guitar riffs, cool bass grooves, and icy atmospherical textures. Musical touchstones included the riveting pop experiments of Brian Eno’s early solo works, as evidenced on tracks such as opener “3rd Planet” and “Gravity Rides Everything.” The music was also coupled with more introspective lyrics which allowed the taste to be acquired more easily.    

The trademark bristly and frazzled sound was not lost however, in fact it was sharpened. “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” and “Dark Center of the Universe” are perfect examples of the old mixing with the new, the sharp songwriting honing the fierce fervor and rough edges into peculiar but brilliant rock tunes. Other tracks are more effusive with haunting ramshackle melodies but are no less endearing.    

The Moon & Antarctica proved Modest Mouse had an intestinal fortitude they wielded as a super power to eschew conventional rock wisdom and construct an album of textured indie rock with curious atmospherics and an existential feel while avoiding easy categorization. Their knack for harnessing a whimsical energy combined with tight little nuggets of sound and various fragments from diverse styles and genres to create something entirely different that is exciting and fresh seems even more compelling today than it did 20 years ago.

www.modestmouse.com

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