Modest Mouse is an alternative rock group that came together in 1992. They’ve been around for two and a half decades, releasing their first album in 1996. Since then, Modest Mouse has turned out eight studio albums. Everyone has their personal preferences, but some albums outperformed others in popularity. We’ve ranked them beginning with worst to best, consulting fan and critic opinions to help achieve a fair rating system.
8. “Strangers To Ourselves”
“Strangers To Ourselves” came out in 2015. Pitchfork points out that the band skipped their tour for all of 213, lost a bassist and went through a lot of hassles to get the album produced. It was a chaotic few years for the band. Skipping tours doesn’t keep your fan base happy or interested. That’s likely, in part, the reason this album found itself in last place on the best works list.
7. “Sad, Sappy Sucker”
“Sad, Sappy Sucker” was first recorded in 1994, according to Metacritic, but it didn’t make it as the debut album because they put the project on the back burner. Critics were rougher on the album than fans, giving it a 55 out of 100 ratings. Fans gave it an 82. It finally dropped in 2001, emerging as a lost album. It’s not their worst effort, but not the best. We were a little more generous than some of the other reviewers because it was, after all, their first work, retrieved from the vault. That should count for something.
6. “The Golden Casket”
“The Golden Casket” is the newest Modest Mouse album, dropping in 2021. It’s almost not fair to include it in the reviews because there has been little time to build up a head of steam. Rolling Stone jumped right in on the new album and didn’t give it a good review. Whenever critics of this magnitude infer an album sounds “forced,” it’s an automatic negative. Others say the project lacks depth using words such as “shallow,” comparing it to “Strangers To Ourselves.” Paste Magazine agreed with our assessment that it’s deserving of the sixth place on the list because the album does have a few redeeming qualities such as a new softness that some fans and fewer critics found attractive and more direction.
5. “Good News For People Who Love Bad News”
This album came out in 2004. It is a short album that was just 48 minutes in duration, but it packed a powerful punch that made the length about right. It’s masterful chaos that you don’t mind playing from start to finish. There are a few landing spots to let you catch your breath, figuratively, but it’s a workout for true Modest Mouse fans. This album is one of their better projects.
4. “This Is Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About”
This album is inherently about changes and shifts that occur naturally. The album is a brilliant infusion of boredom and contemplation. It gets you thinking about the vastness of the universe that comes from being stuck on the road with nothing else to do. It’s a yin and yang experience in deciding if you’re going to experience the scenery as you pass by or take it all in. It’s a metaphor for time and our use of it. It’s nothingness, yet it’s everything. “This Is A Long Drive” is possibly one of the best albums to stimulate meditative states.
3. “The Lonesome Crowded West”
The ranking for this album ranges from a 2 to a 3, from most critics. The only reason we didn’t rate it higher is that the next two are truly exceptional works that scored a little higher on our rating scale. Modest Mouse hit a sweet spot with “The Lonesome Crowded West” that dropped in 1997. There is a meditative quality with this like their other albums that draws you in for more. It’s packed with songs that resonate including “Truckers Atlas,” and “Heart Cooks Brain,” and lyrics that make you smile with a cynical grin, to words that tick you off. The theme of the album points to the urbanization of America and how corporations are relieving us of our humanity. If you’ve followed Modest Mouse and you’re aware of their themes, you’ll catch the drift. Even the album’s title points to urban sprawl and how lonely the expansion is making people feel.
2. “We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank”
This album reaches listeners on a deep psychic level. It’s one of their darkest albums and perhaps one of their most dynamic. There’s an exceptional mix of acoustic work. We love the slow starts that build into crescendos that take you along for the ride. It’s not for everyone, and some critics put it low on their list of choices, but stylistically, it’s moving and takes you in a few different directions. Whether or not you like it, it’s a powerful album with songs that have a genuine impact on the way you’re feeling. Isn’t that the mark of good music?
1. “The Moon and Antarctica”
“The Moon and Antarctica” came out in 2000. It’s been 21 years and this is still the best album that Modest Mouse ever released. Although their third album, it was the first with the Epic label. The musicianship and songwriting were stellar, but the additional help of the studio with its advanced technology for the time gave the album an exceptional boost. My favorite song on this album is “Dark Center of the Universe,” but there are so many more that resonate, including “Gravity Rides Everything, “3rd Planet” and more that it’s substantive and complete with ample psych features. “The Moon and Antarctica” captures the primal essence of Modest Mouse, for me as a fan. Many critics would agree that this is by far their greatest work.