The mesmerizing Washington state trio Modest Mouse released Sad Sappy Sucker this spring to the delight of its faithful followers. Unfortunately, this EP may only treat a small but dedicated group that craves every note the band plays. Although Modest Mouse led the underground/indie rock movement for many years, only recently, following their first major label release on Epic, has the band received the attention it deserves. Sad Sappy Sucker contains the lost material culminated from before the band was fully assembled. Some songs, recorded in 1994, are played without bassist Eric Judy. Others are the creations from singer/guitarist Isaac Brock's "Dial a Song" venture, taken directly from an answering machine where fans and friends would call in to hear his daily guitar rants.
Many of the older studio songs allude to the sound the band developed in later years. Elements of whirling guitar and heavy bass hint at the full bounce-inducing songs on more recent albums. However, the songs never reach their full potential. The young Brock's voice lacks the maturity that comes with years, while the lyrics reveal the sophomoric sentiments of the band's early era. "Follow Through" questions "And what you gonna do with your life?/ Follow through/ and pass high school/ I can't believe you'd be a housewife."
For those fans seeking to fill the gap in their flawless Modest Mouse collection, pick up the EP, but for any new listeners, this collection of home recordings is not the place to start. Try their newest album The Moon and Antarctica or, if you're lucky enough to find tickets to the sold-out show, hear them live at Cat's Cradle on Sept. 27. Everyone should try a modest dose of Mouse at some point, even if Sad Sappy Sucker isn't their best medicine.