Friday, 7 March 2008

MODEST MOUSE: Dashboard


There are two options in life which can usefully bear a car-as-life metaphor when things have been upended. You can resign yourself grievously to the slow corrosion of Jim White's "Corvair," marooned in the yard for fifteen years and now a home for the birds, or you can shrug your shoulders and try to find a way out. The latter stage usually isn't reach until prolonged, agonising, self-hating periods of the former. The ability to reach the loving nonchalance of "oh the dashboard melted, but we still have the radio" is hard to achieve and we should unreservedly applaud those who manage it.

So Modest Mouse had their number one album and allegedly "sold out," i.e. became happy rather than spend their lives as a would-be bird's nest, but do they care? "The windshield was broken but I love the fresh air y'know" in that excitable ten-year-old Tom Verlaine on Christmas morning of a voice suggests that there are more important things to care about. Disaster? Busted? All out of luck? So what if the car's on blocks - they're here, exactly where they wanted to go, which is here and now. One can speak of nothing and everything and yet there is always something to be salvaged, eternally a greater reason to proceed than to freeze. "The last laugh of this show"? Who could deny it to them?

The beats snap like newly walked icicles (the phrase "more than I wanted you to know-oh-oh-oh-oh" followed by an instantaneous "Now here we go!" as the band seem to go underwater is like Zeus clapping apart suffocating waves of indifference. And of course there is Johnny Marr, unavoidably beaming from stage/channel right, with his endless and gladdening variations on the funk cracker, now staccato notes, now quiescent, now bold and flowing, adapting and altering the group's angles with ways that could only be beneficial. It breathes and rocks like more rock should; it would've been could've been worse than anyone could ever know, but the gloriously decisive indecision ends the song with a mighty door slam of confidence, making sure that everyone who wants or needs to be in their room is present and content, having dashed away from the bored.