By now, most Modest Mouse fans have probably heard the first three singles from the upcoming album “Strangers to Ourselves” and decided just how excited – or just how disinterested – they are in the prospect of a new record. Cut loose from the burden of first impressions, “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box” isn’t likely to sway listeners who jumped ship over the past month, but it should thoroughly cement the anticipation of those already invested in the return of Isaac Brock and company to the world of indie rock.
It’s immediately apparent that “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box” is more of a “rock” song than its predecessors, sporting an energetic, propulsive beat backdropped against angular, rhythmic lead-work. This sonic framework recalls the band’s pre-“Good News…” aesthetic, conjuring a palpable nostalgia as it celebrates the quirk-riddled instrumentation of “The Moon & Antarctica’s” poppier numbers. This track, in many ways, could have been lifted straight from one of the band’s older records if not for its clear aim towards radio airwaves. More so than many of the band’s latest tracks, this song feels born for repeated plays with its hook-laden verses and remarkably infectious bridge.
This trend towards accessibility, begun in earnest on the band’s 2004 breakthrough album “Good News For People Who Love Bad News,” has seeped into every one of the band’s releases since and is in full-effect here as well. It’s difficult not to move along with the beat as Brock’s distinctive, nasal voice works its way through the lines “open up the window all the air, all the air is falling out, eyes vaccuum up light, sound is trapped by the mouth.” Brock’s vocal delivery all but guarantees this song is going to be stuck in the listener’s head for hours, but really, when the song is this much fun it’s hard to complain.
“The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box” strikes a remarkable balance between Modest Mouse’s past and present. While the song furthers the group’s foray into mainstream sensibility, it also manages to recall past decades of the band’s career through its odd, quirk-riddled instrumentation. Straddling the best of both worlds, the band’s latest single seems primed to clinch the attention of those awaiting the release of the band’s upcoming album.