excuseMesir, With You In Mind
It’s a weird bit of irony, to me, that Modest Mouse no longer sounds like Modest Mouse. Over the past few years, they’ve lost that rambling, shambling, feet-shuffling, smart-but-shy-about-it charm they displayed on The Lonesome Crowded West, and dammit, I miss that.
Lucky for me, excuseMesir is here to fill the void. On recent EP With You In Mind, the band’s nimble-fingered, slightly soulful indie-rock jamming brings to mind that same effortless brilliance Modest Mouse showed way back when, and melds it with a funky, more “urban”-sounding feel, due in large part to sultry vocalist Kelsey Lee Bland.
I’ll admit, I didn’t get it at first — when I initially listened to excuseMesir, it seemed like Bland had stumbled off the street and into the rehearsal for the wrong damn band and just stayed out of sheer stubbornness. She’s more Asli Omar late-night sleekness (or at the very least, Annie Hardy indie-cool) than, say, Corin Tucker sharp-smart rawk, but somehow it works, even still.
On tracks like “Siren Song” and “Fools Gold,” in particular, Bland’s vocals ripple and flow over the top of the busy, bubbling, jazzy melody-rhythms created by guitarist Darron Beekman, bassist/vocalist Hayden Wander, and drummer Skyler Scholtes, and the end result is some truly enticing prog-pop. Opener “Lizards” is a little further off-kilter, with that aforementioned Modest Mouse-ish sound much more in evidence, while “Dead Weight” slows things down and bluesifies them nicely, albeit in a somewhat sideways fashion.
Then there’s “Sleep Well,” with starts off deceptively gentle and friendly, with noodly, tapped guitars dancing along beside the stutter-stepping drums and Bland’s voice, but then the switch gets flipped — the guitars turn angry and Wander howls in a damn good approximation of old-school mid-’90s emo fury…before everything shifts carefully backwards down to the proggier, more low-key motif.
Overall, With You In Mind is neat, neat stuff, a great shot across the bow (okay, okay — not counting their demo, but that’s from before this current incarnation of the band existed) by a band that’s definitely worth keeping an eye on. I don’t know where these folks are headed, but it should be interesting, at the very least.