Modest Mouse is an American rock band formed in 1992 in Issaquah, Washington, and is currently based in Portland, Oregon. The band is composed of lead singer and guitarist Isaac Brock, drummer Jeremiah Green, and bassist Eric Judy. The band’s original lineup featured Brock, Green, and Dann Gallucci; Judy replaced Gallucci in 1996. Since their 1996 debut album, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, and Modest Mouse has released several studio albums. Over the years, the band’s sound has been described as everything from indie rock and lo-fi to alternative rock and post-punk. Modest Mouse has been praised by critics and has a dedicated cult following. In 2003, Rolling Stone included the band in the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” list. Pitchfork has also ranked them highly, naming them the ninth-best band of the ’00s and the third-best of the 2010s.
10. Paper Thin Walls (2000)
Paper Thin Walls is the fifth track on Modest Mouse’s third studio album, The Moon & Antarctica. The song was released as a single in 2001 and peaked at number 28 on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart. Paper Thin Walls is one of the band’s most popular songs and is often considered a fan-favorite. The song is an ode to Isaac Brock’s apartment complex and the people. The lyrics are written in a stream-of-consciousness style and paint a picture of the chaotic and often drug-fueled parties that would take place at the complex. The song’s instrumentation is sparse, featuring only a simple drum beat and a few guitar chords. Brock’s vocals are delivered in a monotone, deadpan style, adding to the song’s sense of unease and paranoia.
9. Sleepwalking (1996)
Sleepwalking is a song by American rock band Modest Mouse, released in 1996 as the fourth single from their debut studio album Interstate 8. The song was written by lead singer Isaac Brock and produced by Calvin Johnson. It features a distorted guitar riff and drumbeat, with Brock’s vocals being double-tracked throughout. The lyrics deal with insomnia and feature a reference to the 1961 film The Hustler. Sleepwalking received positive reviews from music critics. AllMusic’s Mark Deming praised the song as “a classic Modest Mouse moment” and one of Interstate 8.
8. Dramamine (1996)
The song is about a man’s experience with the medication Dramamine, which is used to treat motion sickness. The song begins with a simple guitar riff repeated throughout the song. The lyrics are written in the first person and detail the narrator’s experience with taking Dramamine. The lyrics paint a picture of the world appearing to move in slow motion and the narrator feeling disconnected from reality. The song gradually builds in intensity, with the addition of drums and bass during the chorus. The guitar riff becomes distorted and chaotic as the song progresses. The song’s final minute is an instrumental jam session, with the instruments becoming increasingly noisy and chaotic.
7. Missed the Boat (2007)
Modest Mouse’s 2007 album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank was notable. For one, it was the band’s first album in four years, and they are first with new member Johnny Marr of The Smiths. Secondly, it returned to form for the band and was one of their best albums. And finally, the album contained the song “Missed the Boat,” which is easily one of the best Modest Mouse songs. It’s a perfect example of the band’s unique blend of alternative rock, indie rock, and even a touch of pop. The song is about missed opportunities and how we often regret things that we didn’t do rather than things we did. It’s a sad but ultimately uplifting message and one that everyone can relate to.
6. 3rd Planet (2000)
This is one of the band’s most popular and well-known songs, and for a good reason. It’s a perfect blend of their quirkier side with some more mainstream sensibilities, making it accessible to a broader audience without sacrificing their unique charms. The song is driven by a catchy guitar riff and features excellent vocal harmonies, making it an earworm. The lyrics are enigmatic and open to interpretation, but they add to the song’s mystique. This track perfectly represents what Modest Mouse is all about – catchy, weird, and completely unforgettable.
5. The World at Large (2004)
The World at Large is the lead single from Modest Mouse’s fourth studio album, Good News for People Who Love Bad News. The song was released on March 2, 2004, and peaked at number four on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Lyrically, The World at Large is a contemplation on life and death, with lead singer Isaac Brock singing from the perspective of a character who is “haunted by the ghost of his younger self.” The song’s music video, directed by Johnny De Carolina, features footage of the band performing in various locations worldwide.
4. Float On (2004)
Float On is the signature Modest Mouse song. It was their first mainstream hit, peaking at number 10 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in 2004, and remains one of their most popular songs. The lyrics are optimistic and uplifting, despite a badly ended relationship. The band has said that the song is about “accepting what you can’t change and moving on.”
3. King Rat (2007)
“King Rat” is the third single from Modest Mouse’s fifth studio album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. The song was released on March 20, 2007. The single peaked at number nineteen on the US Billboard Alternative Songs chart and the UK Singles Chart. Lyrically, “King Rat” is about lead singer Isaac Brock’s former bandmate and friend, Dann Gallucci. The relationship between the two soured when Gallucci left Modest Mouse in 1996 to join Murder City Devils.
2. Trailer Trash (1997)
“Trailer Trash” is the second single from Modest Mouse’s second album, The Lonesome Crowded West (1997). It peaked at number 33 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song is built around a simple guitar riff played by Isaac Brock. The rest of the instruments enter incrementally, including banjo and slide guitar. The lyrics are written from the perspective of a trash collector and deal with themes of class and poverty.
1. Ocean Breathes Salty (2004)
This is the first single off Modest Mouse’s fourth studio album, Good News for People Who Love Bad News. The song debuted at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, making it their highest-charting single. “Ocean Breathes Salty” is a melancholy ode to mortality, with lead singer Isaac Brock reflecting on the inevitability of death. The song’s ethereal quality is underscored by its use of a theremin, which gives it a haunted feeling.
These are the ten best Modest Mouse songs of all time. The band has released some truly great tracks over the years, and these 10 represent the very best of what they have to offer. If you’re a fan of Modest Mouse or just looking for some great music to listen to, these songs are essential.