Modest Mouse: “The Lonesome Crowded West” Reissue Review

There have been many late nights that I’ve spent cycling through the Modest Mouse discography as I hammer away on an essay and contemplate the state of my adolescence.

The idea that there are people in my generation who haven’t experienced their all-telling albums in this transitive state of existence throws me for a loop. Upon re-evaluation however, it’s evident that Modest Mouse is the music for true ‘90s kids.

While my generation strives to fit the model of teenagers from the ‘90s, we fall short in a number of categories, most notably our music taste. We missed a whole slew of slamming guitar chords and discordant vocals.

You can argue that re-issuing a record is just an excuse for a band to milk the money cow on a previously great record, but I see it as a chance to bring something to new ears.

Younger generations will discover a classic, and the generation that grew up with the album will rediscover why they fell in love with it in the first place.

Having not yet been birthed in the summer of 1997, I can’t quite say that I’m rediscovering why this album spoke to me so many moons ago. In the transitional state as new listener and avid follower the reissue of “The Lonesome Crowded West”, has me contemplating the contemporary greatness of the album from both sides of the coin.

You’ll hear the frenzied opening chords of “Teeth like God’s Shoeshine” as the song breaks down into melancholic riffs and weaves back for a burst of energy to finish the opening track.

Modest Mouse will incorporate the turntables into their garage rock grunge sound in “Heart Cooks Brain”. “The Lonesome Crowded West” has its audience hooked in deft lyricism, hip hop elements, and ear ringing grunge-rock sounds all within the first two tracks.

Singer Isaac Brock’s lamenting lyricism is perfectly engaging for the angst filled young listener. “Convenient Parking”, the third song off the album, rejects the concrete jungle that the world which he’s writing in has become with lines like “waiting to bleed on the big streets/ that bleed out on the highways”.

“Lounge (Closing Time)” starts off bouncy and then dissipates into a mellow, metronome beat centered chorus. It picks up again with a steady bass line from Eric Judy and a progressively upbeat drum part.

Brock and company channel down south evening porch music with banjo and fiddle sounds in “Jesus Christ Was an Only Child”.

Skipping ahead on the album, with the risk of leaving the greatness of the middle of the album undetailed, songs like “Long-Distance Drunk”, “Truckers’ Atlas”, and “Out of Gas” make “The Lonesome Crowded West” the perfect soundtrack to a lonesome drive across the country.

Reissues are important. This reissue is important. At the risk of succumbing to the ills of modern pop music it is imperative that we bridge the gap between the generations.

This album in particular is one of those that marks the start of the internet age, 1997, which I might argue is when producing full length albums that never wavered in their musical strength became less important than producing chart topping singles.

At the risk of becoming someone that kids ask “Why do you always want listen to that old stuff?”, I highly suggest you listen to “The Lonesome Crowded West”.


Listen to the full album here.