Investigating their last transmissions while we hunger for more.
Modest Mouse – No One’s First, and You’re Next (Epic EP, 2009)
Comprised of table scraps from the album that turned them mainstream and its subsequent follow up, these eight B-sides double as summary and coda – not as thoughtfully sad or torturously poetic as their better songs, but still a worthy capstone to the most successful era of their decades long career. Ruminating on his fleeting brush with fame and not knowing where to go from here, Isaac Brock dresses up his disillusionment, frustrations and anxieties with metaphors involving animals. There’s the snake who keeps eating his tail, the fishes who want to walk just to fall back down, the whale who would rather drown than surface and the rat who personifies corrupt humanity. It’s dour, yes. But, coming from the man who is content to simply float on, his ennui is a coping mechanism more than it is outright misanthropy. “I’ve got it all almost figured out,” he says in the finale, and I believe him. GRADE: A-
OutKast – Idlewild (LaFace, 2006)
This is my first encounter with what looks to be, at this point anyway, their farewell effort. Well into a phase of jaded teenage cynicism as a high school senior upon its initial release, I readily dismissed what I mistook as a literal soundtrack to a film I had no interest in seeing. “It won’t be as good as Stankonia.” Pretty accurate, but, then again, few albums ever are. Though this Hollywood companion piece is underwhelming when placed alongside their monolithic previous efforts, it would be a buzz worthy debut for any fresh-faced start up. Yet, there are some telling signs of just how fragmented Andre and Big Boi’s relationship had become at this point. Of the 25 “songs” – 19 if you remove pointless intros and interludes, just one finds the duo working together. A bastard version of their 2003 double album, where “separate but equal” was the mantra, the Dre songs are often brief, unfinished and mere noodlings which dabble in vaudeville and jazz while his counterpart’s deep fried rhymes carry the load. Seeing how their respective post-OutKast outings have ventured (Gillette commercials and solo albums), this footnote of a goodbye seems fittingly prophetic. GRADE: B+