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Modest Mouse

We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Essential: "Parting of the Sensory"

The Washington rockers' follow-up to 2004's bona fide breakthrough hit, "Good News for People Who Love Bad News," is such a dense, stylistically diverse affair that it's likely that favorite tracks will vary depending on the listener. Lovers of leader Isaac Brock's sometimes precise and cutting lyrics will revel in the stunning, carnival freak-out of an opener, "March Into the Sea." Fans of his more abstract musings will dig the gritty bounce of lyrical headscratcher "Fire it Up." Booty-shaking guitar nuts will be pleased by the riffs -- punk, pop, metal, and otherwise -- that anchor the proceedings, some courtesy of newest member Johnny Marr of the Smiths. And fans of Brock's David Byrne-esque swoops, shouts, and brays will be pleased with his unpredictable vocal twists. If "We Were Dead . . ." is a little much to take in all at once, the sheer mass of the tunes becomes easier to manage over repeated listens.

[Sarah Rodman]

Modest Mouse plays at the Orpheum Theatre April 27.