No One's First, and You're Next

by: Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse had their commercial breakthrough with Good News for People Who Love Bad News and kept that momentum going with We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, but this EP felt like a breather for the band before their next full-length. Which is only fitting, considering that these tracks are re-recorded versions of songs laid down during the Good News and We Were Dead sessions (most of which were originally released on three limited-edition 7" singles). Yet the overall sound of No One's First, And You're Next is rawer than either of those albums, especially on "Satellite Skin," a rowdy, oddly Stones-y grind with some of Isaac Brock's most impassioned vocals in quite some time. Indeed, most of these songs don't feel like they would have fit on either of those albums, yet they still capture many sides of the band, including "Guilty Cocker Spaniels"' sunny strum and "Autumn Beds"' rustic acoustics. Much of the EP falls somewhere in between Good News and We Were Dead's straight-ahead hits and quirkier detours in a way that actually feels more of a piece with Modest Mouse's earlier work; "The Whale Song"'s moody melody and anguished-sounding guitars echo the darkness of The Moon & Antarctica. Given that No One's First, And You're Next is essentially a re-recorded odds 'n' sods collection, it's not surprising that it tends to feel a little scattered. However, the EP's second half hooks into something of a groove, with "Perpetual Motion Machine"'s brassy bluster and "History Sticks to Your Feet"'s loopy rock providing highlights. The true standout, however, is "King Rat," which was originally a bonus track on We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Opening with an almost obscene brass wail from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, its righteous anger and backwater eccentricity make it quintessentially Modest Mouse. No One's First, And You're Next may not be as cohesive as the band's other compilations, but it's still a satisfying stop-gap release and a must for hardcore fans who missed these songs on vinyl. ~ Heather Phares

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