Rating (9.2)

How do they do it? A small-town garage band makes it big but sticks to their roots. Other Northwest success stories have had much different results (see also: Death Cab for Cutie). Through the years, even with switches to major labels and radioplay, the band has stayed true to their sound, picking up an incredible guitarist along the way. With a blip of pop-influenced song structing (Good News For People Who Love Bad News), the indie-rock superstars have faded back to abstract, avant-garde rock, keep the verse-chorus-verse aspects of pop loosely in mind.

Songs like "The Whale Song" recall songs of yesteryear ("Mechanical Birds") with bending, whiney lead guitar building up to the first verse, almost like an anti-"I Will Possess Your Heart". The genius in Modest Mouse is their ability to, to borrow from the Bush administration, 'stay the course'. Distorted background vocals, twangy guitar, paradoxical lyrics, and essentially an unmarketable sound in the confines of a big time label and mainstream radio.

The EP goes from one extreme to the other; "King Rat" brings on the insanity of Issac Brock we've come to know and love, and "Autumn Beds" brings into play the band's ever-growing pop sensibility with a happily banjo splashed in. No One's First's biggest accomplishment is "Guilty Cocker Spaniel", a track summoning the crisp, raw, straight-out-the garage guitar of Lonesome Crowded West; an admirably simple "sound" passed down to up-and-coming acts like Thao & the Get Down Stay Down.