"WOW, has it been ten years?!"

Unbelievably, yes it has. April 6 2004.

Modest Mouse really loved Bad News in their early career. The Washington band's first three albums, 1994's This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About, 1997's The Lonesome Crowded West and 2000's The Moon And Antarctica all took on a twisted, demonic state, tackling subjects from murderous cowboys to crippling depression to hard drug use.

Tackling any of those three albums as a newcomer to Modest Mouse is nothing less than daunting. None are easy, methodical or run for less than an hour. Given time, they show themselves as three of the best indie rock records of the last 30 years, but can't simply be approached on a whim. I was confused, frustrated and even bored the first time I listened to The Lonesome Crowded West (well - the first fifty minutes - I just couldn't make it to the end).

They needed a gateway album; something easier on the ear, shorter, simpler. And that's what Modest Mouse came up with on their fourth effort - 2004's Good News For People Who Love Bad News. This isn't at all to say that Good News... is easily pinned down, short (it still hits 49 minutes in sixteen tracks) or even close to dull; 'Satin In A Coffin' is some of their most contorted material ("are you dead or are you sleeping/I sure hope you are dead") and there's an interlude consisting entirely of a babbling child and a church organ, but this classically Modest Mouse weirdness is broken up by hits.

In a single word, that's what made Good News... the first Modest Mouse album that you could fall in love with on first listen. By the end of the first two (proper) tracks, the band had displayed more chorus' than in the three-and-a-half hours on their previous LPs. It's easy to say 'Float On' is the single that Modest Mouse 'always wanted to write', but when 'Trucker's Atlas' (from Lonesome...) runs for an unnecessary 10-plus minutes despite having the ability to be a four-minute radio mingler, it seems more likely that they didn't want to write a single. Modest Mouse pre-Good News lacked that single to allow casual fans into their confused, baffling discography.

Most Modest Mouse fans probably wouldn't consider Good News... their favourite album by the band - mine, like many, is The Lonesome Crowded West - but I would have never got to the point where I felt able to approach that seventy-four minute monster if I hadn't been eased in by Good News...

Closer 'The Good Times Are Killing Me' is an apology and a deathly realisation from Isaac Brock of the outrageous drug use that shaped the band's early material, stating he now needs "more sleep than coke and methamphetamine", while 'The View' takes stock of all the horrible experiences that formed This Is A Long Drive... and The Lonesome Crowded West, saying "as life gets longer, awful feels softer", allowing light and positivity to eek their way into the music of Modest Mouse, against the wishes of these thoroughly miserable musicians from Washington.

If it really does take shit to make bliss, then every ounce of the shit that gave Modest Mouse so much to sing about in the '90s was utilised in order to make an album as blissful as this.

Good News for People Who Love Bad News was released by Epic Records on April 6, 2004.