When R.E.M. announced that Modest Mouse would open its just-finished U.S. tour, it seemed like an odd choice. While the legendary Athens trio was enjoying a return to streamlined rock & roll, Modest Mouse has long labored on the fringes, creating unhinged, spazzy, sharp-cornered landmines of rock music. In hindsight, though, the pairing was inspired — like R.E.M., Isaac Brock's ungainly crew has made the move from treasured indie band to major-label act without sacrificing what made the band great to begin with. Last year's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank proved that Modest Mouse was a solid investment for Epic Records (even if it didn't spawn a hit as massive as "Float On"), and the addition of former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr to the ever-changing lineup adds a touch of classicist pop pedigree to a band that has always been greater than the sum of its disparate parts.
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