Album Of The Week – Night On The Sun / Modest Mouse

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A Night On The Sun is neither a new release or an album, but has been reissued by Isaac Brock’s label, Glacial Pace. It was initially a precursor to their third album, The Moon And Antarctica, and fittingly covers the same topics that Brock and co. were into at the time, mostly space and humanity. They had evolved from the punkiness of The Lonesome Crowded West and had added more layers to their music, incorporating the acoustic guitar that would fill up Brock’s first (and only) solo album as Ugly Casanova. It doesn’t have the same forceful impact; Isaac Brock doesn’t strain his vocals as much as he did on ‘Shit Luck’, but instead of shouting his words through, he has to sharpen them to have more of an impression. ‘You were the dull sound of sharp math when you were alive / no one’s gonna play the harp when you die’ springs to mind on the otherwise peaceful ‘Lives’, which brings the acoustic guitar right to the front. Modest Mouse had done this before, both with acoustic guitar and banjo, but those were moments of quiet like ‘Bankrupt On Selling’, not these drops of knowledge and criticism.

It’s confusing how the lead song didn’t end up on The Moon And Antarctica, and even though it comes in at 9 and a half minutes, an edited version didn’t show up either, which is strange as it has some of the strongest imagery Brock has ever come up with: ‘Freeze your blood and then stab it into, in two / Stab your blood into me and blend’ and ‘There’s one thing to know about this earth / We’re put here just to make more dirt and that’s okay’. Simultaneously, Modest Mouse conquer the otherworldly questions and the most basic human needs. The ‘blood’ might seem like an unusual metaphor, but the references to blood, stabbing and merging are ways of voicing a desire to be close to someone else, so close that you are literally the blood running through their veins; blood that is a combination of theirs and yours. ‘Night On The Sun’ might be the most traditional Modest Mouse song on the EP, with the ambling guitar line, crescendos and Jeremiah Green’s drumming.

It’s probably key to remember that A Night On The Sun was initially just a demo tape for Modest Mouse’s new major label Epic, so the 18 second track of Jeremiah Green speaking Japanese, or the inferior version of ‘Lives’, needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. ‘Wild Pack Of Family Dogs’ is exactly the same, but both the title track and ‘You’re The Good Things’ got left off The Moon And Antarctica. Therefore, it’s a mish-mash, like a lot of Modest Mouse EPs tend to be. There’s so many, with so much crossover that they sometimes seem like tying up loose ends, which is probably what they are. But often there are gems in the middle, like the title track of this EP, or ‘Summer’ on The Fruit That Ate Itself. 

Funnel Recommends: Night On The Sun / You’re The Good Things / Lives

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