It’s hard to imagine singer-guitarist Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse changing his outlook too much after more than a decade of relentless pessimism. But it’s equally difficult to imagine earlier albums by the Seattle band featuring a song as guardedly hopeful as “One Chance,” from the new Good News for People Who Love Bad News (Epic): “We have one chance, one chance / To get everything right / We have one chance, one chance / And if we’re lucky we might.” Elsewhere, Brock renounces former vices (“Fed up with all that LSD / Need more sleep than coke or methamphetamines”) and tinges his insults with a 12-stepper’s fresh-minted moralism: “You wasted life / Why wouldn’t you waste the afterlife?” he sneers at the end of “Ocean Breathes Salty.” Thing is, even an upbeat Brock is still a bit of a grouch. On the album’s hit single, “Float On,” he yammers “All right, already” so insistently you start to wish he’d just knock it off (already)–but meanwhile you’ve been sucked in by the gorgeous, clucking guitars. That’s how a lot of the album works: Brock bellows like a giant baby who’s missed his breakfast and plays like an angel, while bassist Eric Judy and drummer Benjamin Weikel of Portland’s Helio Sequence (replacing charter member Jeremiah Green, who quit during the Good News sessions but has since rejoined) hold down the bottom with circular, oompahing rhythms that might get called “disco rock” if this were the band’s debut album. Death Cab for Cutie and the Walkmen open. $10, all ages. Saturday, August 14, 5:30 PM, New City YMCA, 1515 N. Halsted; for more information see www.q101.com.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Piper Ferguson.