Modest Mouse: "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank"
Producer: Dennis Herring
Epic
Release Date: March 20

Modest Mouse is in top form on the follow-up to 2004's commercial breakthrough "Good News for People Who Like Bad News." The band welcomes original drummer Jeremiah Green back into the fold and also benefits from the contributions of ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. "We Were Dead" doesn't stray too far from the trademark Modest Mouse sound: frontman Isaac Brock spitting lispy, sporadically abrasive lyrics in cadence with sinewy rock grooves occasionally accompanied by beautiful melody. But there's more melody than usual to be found here, including on the airy, uptempo rocker "Florida" and back-porch nautical anthem "Missed the Boat," both of which feature the Shins' James Mercer. Even more entrancing are the eight-minute adventure "Spitting Venom" and the pleasantly menacing "Fly Trapped in a Jar," in which Brock channels all his nervous energy into intoning "one wing wasn't even enough/to live." --Troy Carpenter