Let me state for the record that it is my inclination to give everything ever produced by Modest Mouse five stars. I have an extreme bias towards them; they are far and away my favorite band, and have been for the past couple of years. I devour everything of theirs: b-sides, outtakes, early 4-track demos, even songs that singer Isaac Brock used to leave on his answering machine as a kind of twisted dial-a-song service.
Nevertheless, I have tried to take an objective look at the new EP from Modest Mouse, the bizarrely named "Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks". It is cobbled together from outtakes and b-sides, including the complete "Night on the Sun" EP that was released only in Japan and four previously unreleased songs. But nothing on here is really new, in the sense that they went into the studio to record tracks just for this EP; everything is just left over from the "Moon and Antarctica" sessions.
Not that that's necessarily bad; "The Moon and Antarctica" was one of the best records released in 2000 (See? I'm being fair, I didn't say it was THE best, even though it was), and just because these tracks didn't make the cut doesn't mean they aren't great material. Just as the leftovers from Radiohead's "OK Computer" produced the fantastic "Airbag/How Am I Driving" EP, so, too, do the "Moon" castoffs make for a compelling companion piece to the full-length LP.
The records starts off with two tracks from the "Night" EP, "Willful Suspension of Disbelief", a blissful, dreamy journey to Saturn and back, and "Night on the Sun", a quirky little tune with an oddball arrangement to match its lyrics (sample: "I eat my own blood and get filled up/I get filled up on me"). "3 Inch Horses, Two Faced Monsters" is technically an unreleased track, but a little sample of it is tacked onto the end of the "Moon" version of "I Came As a Rat". It is perhaps the oddest track on the EP, but also one that's pretty likely to get stuck in your head. Not that its a sing-along track or anythingits tune is more like an infestation than a hook, in a good way.
"You're the Good Things" is another track from "Night", and it is followed by the new instumental track "The Air", which would be right at home in the middle of "Moon", whose core tracks are long, ghostly, and full of empty spaces. These are followed by the last two previously unreleased tracks, "So Much Beauty in Dirt" and "Here It Comes", both of which are simple, mostly acoustic little ditties that seem to bleed together into one song. The final track, "I Came As a Rat (Long Walk Off a Short Dock)" is just a longer version of the similarly-titled "Moon" track, only without the sample from "3 Inch Horses" mixed in at the end.
If you are a fan of Modest Mouse, you probably already own this, because being a Modest Mouse fan is generally an all-or-nothing proposition. And being an unabashed Modest Mouse fan myself, it is hard for me to objectively rate this record in comparison to works by other artists. Instead, I have rated it in regards to its importance to the Modest Mouse canon of works. It is definitely worth buying, and it has several interesting moments, but you can easily see why each of these tracks were left off of the final version of "The Moon and Antarctica".