Modest Mouse: ‘Lampshades on Fire’ Single Review

It’s been too long. Honestly, and I’m just throwing around numbers here, I wouldn’t be surprised if one third of Modest Mouse’s fanbase never expected them to release music again. After all, it’s been six years since their last release (an EP of B-sides titled No One’s First and You’re Next) and eight years since we’ve gotten a proper studio album (2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank). Most of us have moved on in life; we have families now, we have jobs, and we listen to St. Vincent.

That single “Lampshades on Fire,” is a familiar tune that’s become a staple of the band’s live show over the past four years.  Regardless, it only goes to show that after eight years of near-silence, Isaac Brock and co. haven’t skipped a beat.

The song starts with an undeniably catchy, keyboard-laden “ba ba ba” tune, fairly reminiscent of “The World at Large,” before quickly taking a sonic left turn into the dark and dancey cerebral pathways of Modest Mouse. The song sounds as though it would not be entirely out of place on We Were Dead…, but there’s something about it that sets its tune apart; perhaps it’s Big Boi’s (yes, of Outkast) slick production, or the faint callback to the band’s early days by use of pitch harmonics.

No matter what it is, when Brock starts spitting venom, we fully begin to realize how much we missed these guys. “Well the lampshade’s on fire when the lights go out/The room lit up and we ran about/This is what I really call a party now,” he sings, fully embracing the band’s campaign for all things clever and absurd. The song really comes full circle with its brief inclusion of strings and female backing vocals.

What we’re left with isn’t a brand new band – it’s hardly a brand new song, really – but it is a band that sounds rejuvenated. “Lampshades on Fire” encompasses most of everything fans have come to love about Modest Mouse, with its bounciest guitars cranked to 11. That St. Vincent album is certainly something special, but it might finally be time to politely guide our attention back towards these towering indie giants.