Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse Credit: Courtesy the artist

Modest Mouse front man Isaac Brock can perform a breezy, carefree song in a way that suggests you should be concerned for his well-being. And his recent public comments haven’t exactly quieted those worries; in interviews for the band’s new seventh album, The Golden Casket (Epic/Sony), Brock has dabbled in worrisome tinfoil-hat theories (he made references to gang stalking, voice-to-skull technology, silent-war conspiracies, and UFOs in his conversation with Uproxx). I don’t want to psychoanalyze Brock based on edited Q&As, though, because it’s a wonder that Modest Mouse’s new music—made during the dreadfulness of the pandemic—sounds more cheerful than their usual strained optimism. Brock and company gussy up their alternately clamorous and soothing indie rock with electronic flourishes, accentuating its familiar charms with digital blips and curlicues. Modest Mouse’s hard-earned triumphalism gilds the brightest passages on The Golden Casket—the gusty, almost symphonic chorus of “The Sun Hasn’t Left” shines with irrepressible joy. Those moments make it easier to get past the album’s odder bits, such as Brock’s line about “hashtagging, photo bragging” on “Wooden Soldiers”—its awkwardness bothers me like a popcorn kernel stuck between my molars.   v