Personnel: Isaac Brock (vocals, guitar, 12-string guitar, baritone guitar, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, Mellotron); Lisa Molinaro (vocals, viola, cello); James Mercer (vocals); Dann Gallucci (guitar, acoustic guitar, synthesizer, drum machine); Russell Higbee (guitar, baritone guitar, cornet, euphonium, electric piano, Fender Rhodes piano, organ, pump organ, vibraphone, upright bass, kalimba, background vocals); Jim Fairchild (guitar, ukulele, Fender Rhodes piano, background vocals); Jeremiah Green (guitar, whistle, vibraphone, drums, congas, djembe, kalimba, sequencer, background vocals); Tom Peloso (acoustic guitar, cornet, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, synthesizer, kalimba, background vocals); Tristan Forney (tuba); William Slater (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, synthesizer, background vocals); Darrin Wiener (synthesizer, programming); Jose Medeles (vibraphone, drums, percussion); Maureen Pandos (upright bass); Jeremy Sherrer (timbales, programming, background vocals); Ben Massaralla, Tucker Martine, Davey Brozowski (percussion); Corrina Repp (background vocals).
Recording information: Ice Cream Party.
In the interim between 2007's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank and 2015's Strangers to Ourselves, Isaac Brock receded from the spotlight. He sat out the better part of a decade -- making several lineup changes (shedding longterm collaborator Eric Judy, and adding Russell Higbee, Jim Fairchild, and auxiliary player Lisa Molinaro), attempting to record an album with Big Boi, toying with bringing Krist Novoselic aboard -- before finally deciding to get back to where he once belonged. Brock's return to roots is naturally a roundabout of detours, a record that moves between stylized eccentricity and streamlined strangeness, stopping occasionally to soak in a scenic, dreamy view. Strangers to Ourselves starts at this hazy point, swooning with a narcotic sway that recalls peak Mercury Rev. Still, it's not long before Modest Mouse begins bouncing at a syncopation that recalls "Float On," just one of many deliberate references to the ghosts of alt-rock past haunting Strangers to Ourselves. "Pistol" skeeves out like a disco-fied outtake from Ween's Pure Guava, the carnivalesque "Sugar Boats" lurches forward on a circus piano reminiscent of Blur, and "The Best Room" circles around a guitar riff that echoes Space Ghost Coast to Coast -- each one a signal that Brock is comfortable with the dream of the '90s. The trick is, he now has the skill of a consummate craftsman, so the raggedness here comes across as deliberate, probably because the moments that are less consciously quirky -- i.e., the bulk of the album -- are so skillfully constructed. So, Strangers to Ourselves is an album where the trees matter more than the forest: song for song, it demonstrates the exacting nature of Brock. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Entertainment Weekly - "Group mastermind Isaac Brock hasn't lost the prodigious hook-writing chops that were always there, even at their most jagged: First single 'Lampshades on Fire' is a punchy, seesawing winner..." -- Grade: A
NME (Magazine) - "[With] some of their most brilliantly deranged moments yet. From grizzled, slap-bass disco freakouts to campfire lullabies, it's an impressively unpredictable record that veers down wildly different paths, in ways no previous Modest Mouse album has dared."
Paste (magazine) - "The opening juxtaposition from the title track to their smash single 'Lampshades on Fire' is attention-grabbing and bold...finding them still focused and savvy..."