This is the first Modest Mouse album I heard, and is really their first proper album. So balls to me for not hearing them earlier on one of their cassette-only releases, or on an EP or 12” or something way more hip. But right away I was like “holy shit!” I love this. The sound is just so unique in its weird amalgam of a math rock base (a la Slint or, later, Pinback) overlaid with sloppy indie rock and a lead singer who sounded like a slurring redneck. But somehow it all comes together to form something that has both perfect indie cred, rock swagger and a pop sensibility that you wouldn’t expect from the kind of strangeness of what amounts to a semi-experimental romp that mixes genres (including jazz!) and tempos and can swing from a beautiful little melody to an all-out smash fest on the turn of a dime. At 16 tracks, there’s a lot to digest here, and it’s not as if any of this music is an easy 4/4 glide. The music can be challenging at times, mixing time signatures and banging on rounds of repeating guitar churn (plus at one point I swear I heard the guitar actually cry), but the reward is great seeing a band burgeoning right before your eyes. Very ambitious and very good.