Modest Mouse often imbues its music with a startle factor. Singer Isaac Brock spits out lyrics like they’re burning his tongue, and the band’s instrumentation is skillfully frenetic. More than 20 years after its formation in a small city outside Seattle, and eight years after its last studio album, the indie rock outfit has maintained and improved upon its exuberance.
The video for “The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box,” from this year'sStrangers to Ourselves, is only a surprising turn if you’re expecting normalcy, which has never described Modest Mouse. This band eschews the status quo in ways that are youthful without feeling juvenile, and which have lent Brock and his bandmates a unifying sound despite heavy membership turnover in the mid-aughts.
“The Ground Walks,” set in a Game Of Thrones-ian world of mystic, foreboding figures cavorting in a scorched countryside, is a perfect example of Modest Mouse at its witty, irreverent best. Brock’s portrayal of a tyrannical ruler is silly and compulsively watchable. The video is a perfect reminder that the only thing to expect from this band, and the thing that has made it survive and thrive for decades, is the unexpected.