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Strangers to the rest of us, too; as by now is well-documented, this is the first new Modest Mouse record in eight years. Johnny Marr, who was part of the lineup on 2007's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, has had time to join and then leave another band in the interim, and the lengthy delay is made all the more intriguing - or frustrating, depending on your perspective - by the fact that we don't really have a straightforward reason for the layover; the band have continued to tour on and off, even if they did line up a lengthy run of UK dates for the summer of 2013 before canning them because - you guessed it - they needed more time to work on their next record.

What I suppose you could say in their defence is that their back catalogue is one of the strongest in modern indie rock, and perhaps you couldn't blame them for wanting to make sure that whatever came next stood up next to the likes of The Moon and Antarctica and Good News for People Who Love Bad News. That's perhaps why, though, it's difficult not to feel a little underwhelmed by Strangers to Ourselves, even if only to begin with. It might well be unreasonable - what were we expecting, a flamenco-infused symphonic black metal record? - but this sounds like precisely what it is - a solid Modest Mouse LP.

Put simply, there isn't much on this album that couldn't have been released circa Ship Even Sank. Lead single 'Lampshades on Fire' kind of plays like the album in microcosm, simmering along nicely, but not spectacularly, with a typically eccentric vocal turn from Isaac Brock and an instrumental palette that's cluttered, but never quite crowded. 'The Best Room' and 'The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box' are both groove-driven stompers that serve as sharp reminders of how well this band can walk the line between funk and disco. 'Shit in Your Cut' and closer 'Of Course We Know', meanwhile, tick the box marked 'woozy, harmony-heavy slow-burners', and with some confidence at that.

The stylistic variation present throughout the album, especially on one with sixteen tracks, was always going to raise the probability of a couple of missteps. The most egregious, by a distance, is 'Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL. 1996), a bizarre, distortion-heavy affair that plays over a thumping hip-hop beat and couldn't possibly have come from mooted sessions with Big Boi, given the man's near-unblemished track record. Instead, it evokes memories of 'My World', the laughably bad stab at industrial rock that Axl Rose tacked onto the end of Use Your Illusion II without telling any of his bandmates. 'Sugar Boats', meanwhile, is a mess that sounds like the studio mics accidentally picked up somebody dicking about with the effects on a cheap keyboard in the background.

Brock has promised that a second album from the same sessions, currently incomplete but not too far away, should be with us before long; given the uniqueness of the talent on display here - the flexibility of Brock's voice, for instance, is still without compare - I'll look on that as an opportunity to provide a pithier, more focused statement than this one. There's plenty to like about Strangers to Ourselves; it's just that it genuinely baffles that an LP as sprawling as this can have so many different ideas, and so few new ones.

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