A lot has happened since the last Modest Mouse album: Johnny Marr left the band, Jim Fairchild rejoined, they re-released The Moon & Antarctica for Record Store Day, rumours spread that Outkast’s Big Boi had been called in to lend a hand on their next LP, but then Joe Plummer chucked it and they cancelled their tour, and everyone wondered whether there would ever be a follow-up to 2007’s We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. If somebody hadn’t leaked it online, leading to a premature rush-release, then who knows if we would have ever heard it.
Big Boi did indeed work on it, though there doesn’t seem to be any influence of rap or hip hop; it’s just another guitar-led indie album. His presence is felt less than Nick Clegg’s is in the coalition. It is calmer than previous albums, particularly its predecessor, something that was noted upon the release of the first single, “Lampshades of Fire”. Having said that, the calm is often nice and there are still a few that pick up the tempo a bit, but nothing on the level of “Dashboard” or “Float On”. “The Ground Walks, with a Time in a Box” is the closest it gets, with a strong chorus and echoes of disco and jazz. At the other end, “God is an Indian and You’re an Asshole”, a banjo-infused country attempt, leaves nothing but apathy.
In short, there are obvious glimpses of Modest Mouse at their best, but the rest of the album is littered with mediocre fillers; it’s ok, but not great. Having spent over eight years waiting, Strangers to Ourselves will offer nothing new or exciting, but nothing dreadful either. Worth the wait? Probably not.