MODEST MOUSE The Moon & Antarctica (Matador)

Feted US indie types (even though they’ve been signed to Epic since the turn of the millennium) who score many extra points for currently having Johnny Marr (ex-The Smiths, The The and, er, Electronic, remember) in their ranks and prompting misery jukebox Mark Kozelek to record an entire album of their songs, Modest Mouse, represented here by their third full-length, originally released in 2000, should be brilliant, shouldn’t they? Then why is this album such a tedious grind to get through?

Yer typical Modest Mouse song overflows with verbosity, goes loud/quiet/loud and models an eminently shoutable chorus in celebration of modern alternative rock’s grunge godfathers (some of whom died for us, remember), finds time for an angsty, acoustic detour to appease your (or Mr Kozelek’s) sensitive side, whilst cramming in enough near-math rock non-linearity to keep college radio humming. It all makes for a pretty indigestible mess, all told. A lot of effort has clearly been expended upon its creation – as Isaac Brock yells repeatedly during “Dark Center Of The Universe”, “It took a lot of work to be the ass that I am” – but I really don’t understand the results. Wish I did.

The almost-pop of “Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes” arguably finds the album at its least irritating, and “A Different City” lowers the punchability factor by being the kind of standard inner city indie conspiracy thriller that can probably trace its lineage back to Joy Division’s “Interzone”. The stretched-out, near nine minute jam-powered “The Stars Are Projectors” isn’t as excruciating as it could’ve been, and the folky acoustic guitar and violin midsection of “Lives” is not unappealing. But otherwise, there’s no soul or beating heart to this album; it sounds like an empty hipster exercise, as cold as its titular locations.