Monday, June 16, 2014

An Open Letter to Modest Mouse

Dear Modest Mouse,

Hi. Do you remember this album?

I'll forgive you if not - after all, it came out in March 2007, a whole seven years ago. I was in secondary school at the time, preparing to take my GCSEs. I'm now a 22-year-old man, and you haven't released another album since.

Okay, so there was No One's First and You're Next, the mini-album/EP thing that you put out in 2009. And, yes, those eight songs were pretty good. But No One's First was a stopgap, not a proper Mouse album, and even if it had been twice as long (you guys have kind of set a precedent for really long albums - No One's First would've been a full-length release for any other band), we've still gone five years without any new material.

Now, I don't usually believe that artists 'owe' their fans anything. The fact that I enjoyed your last record doesn't mean that you're obliged to make another one; you could have released We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank and then vanished completely if you had wanted to. I would have felt sad, but I certainly wouldn't have felt that I was in any way entitled to another MM release.

But it's not like we haven't heard anything from you guys in the last few years. In fact, you announced a big European tour in early 2013, only to cancel it a few months later. Here, as reported by, is what you said at the time:

"After much thought, we have decided to cancel our EU/UK tour to continue work on our forthcoming album. We do appreciate our fans and promise that we will make it up to you next year."

I remember this quite well because I had tickets for the Bristol show. I was disappointed, of course, but I did admire your decision to let the much-anticipated new album take priority over a couple dozen live shows. Hundreds would disagree with me, but as much as I enjoy a good gig, I do think that albums ought to come first.

But here we are, in June 2014 (more than a year after that Pitchfork article was posted), and we've still heard nothing about your new album. Now, come on, chaps - you cancelled a tour to get this album finished, and if you're going to let your fans down like that then you shouldn't make empty promises alongside the cancellation announcement.

Oh, and given how long this record is taking to complete, it had better be darn-tootin' awesome when it does materialise. You're in danger of entering Duke Nukem Forever territory here, and the longer you keep everyone waiting, the higher and more unreachable our expectations become.

Understand that I'm a huge fan of yours, and that my frustration stems from a genuine love for your previous LPs. Dashboard was my MySpace song for ages, which is yet another indicator of just how long it's been since We Were Dead came out:

I remember buying that CD on the day it was released. I remember taking a good long time to explore it, enjoying all the different sounds and styles that you'd created on that disc. I remember being amazed that a glowing pop song like Missed the Boat could be part of the same album as Parting of the Sensory (with its gypsy-stomp climax) and March Into the Sea (the angriest sea shanty ever committed to record).

I appreciate that an intricate, endlessly rewarding album like that takes a long time to perfect. But, c'mon, it shouldn't take this long.

Yours hopefully,
Joel Dear.

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