The Moon & Antarctica

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The Moon & Antarctica
Studio album by Modest Mouse
Released June 13, 2000
March 9, 2004 (CD reissue)
April 13, 2010 (vinyl reissue)
August 10, 2010 (CD reissue)
Recorded July–November 1999 at Clava Studios in Chicago, Illinois
Genre Indie rock, experimental rock
Length 59:43
Label Epic
Producer Brian Deck
Simon Askew (reissue)
Modest Mouse chronology
Building Nothing Out of Something
The Moon & Antarctica
Sad Sappy Sucker
Alternative covers
Promo cover (2000)
Reissue cover (2004)

The Moon & Antarctica is the third full-length album by American rock band Modest Mouse, first released by Epic Records on June 13, 2000. The album was the band's first release on a major label and was released on both compact disc and vinyl LP. It has since been reissued twice on CD and once on vinyl. The album peaked at number 120 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart.[1]

The album was praised by critics and fans alike for its in-depth discussion of dense subject matter, as well as frontman Isaac Brock's clever and introspective lyrics. The album was also hailed for being an expansion of the band's unique sound. This was due both to the band's new major label tools as well as the production of Brian Deck.[2] The title of the album is taken from the opening scene of Blade Runner, where the main character is reading a newspaper, headlined: "Farming the Oceans, the Moon and Antarctica."[3]


The album was the band's first released by a major record label, being issued on Epic Records.[4] Despite the fans' common concern that the switch to a major record label would change the band's unique sound, Isaac Brock assured fans that this would not be the case, "I don't think the new album is at all overpolished or anything. We spent more time getting crazy sounds than making things sound polished.[4]"

The album was produced by Brian Deck, who first met the band on a concert in Detroit, "We ended up on a bill together at The Magic Stick in Detroit, and we got along really well, we hung out till the end of the night—and maybe consumed a fair amount of beer together.” says Deck.[2] Deck and Brock fell out of touch shortly thereafter, but reconnected a few years later, when Brock invited Califone (which included several members of Deck's band Red Red Meat) to hit the road as Modest Mouse’s opening act.

The album was the first project to be recorded in Clava Studios in Chicago.[5] When Modest Mouse band members arrived for the recording, the studio was not completely finished.[5] Though Deck was mostly producing under Perishable Records at the time, and the studio was built mostly for Perishable projects, Deck had no problems producing under Epic Records. Despite being under a major label the band "remains largely self-managed and still drive themselves across the country on tour,[4] "and Brock was fairly involved in the mixing process. Deck said of Brock's involvement that, "By the end of making the record, he was able to mastermind some cool maneuvers with plug-ins and Pro Tools. It wasn't so much that he was mixing, but he could look at a song, understand the musical event that he wanted to make happen, understand the tools at his disposal, relate it in a way that I could understand, and make it happen pretty quickly.[4]"

In the middle of recording, Brock was attacked and got his jaw broken by a group of ruffians hanging out at a park across the street from where the band were staying in Chicago.[6] "It laid him up in the hospital for a week," Deck says. "Then his jaw was wired shut for two or three months."[5]

The recording for the album took 5 months, beginning in July 1999 and running until November 1999.[7]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 82/100[8]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars [9]
Almost Cool (8.25/10) [10]
Alternative Press 3/5 stars [11]
Mojo 4.5/5 stars [8]
NME (7/10) [12]
Pitchfork Media (9.8/10) [13]
(5/10) (Expanded Edition)[14]
Robert Christgau A− [15]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars [16]
Spin (3/10) [17]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars [18]

Most reviews mention The Moon and Antarctica as a concept album that emphasizes space and the afterlife.[19] Another common theme discussed in the reviews of the album was the question of whether or not the raw and edgy aspects of the band were diminished by the move to a major label; reviews were differing on this point with some claiming that this album was "the weirdest record yet,"[19] and other's saying that the more docile "moody" middle tracks "downplay the edgy rock that helped make them indie stars."[9] Nude as the News gave it a score of nine out of ten and called it "An absolutely awesome album."[8] Wall of Sound gave it a score of 85 out of 100 and said that "Plaintive, nakedly honest lyrics collide with keen observation... an hour of enrapturing atmosphere."[20] LA Weekly gave it a favorable review and said it was "darker and colder than [Modest Mouse's] previous stuff, but maintains the very particular blend of peculiar lyrics and uncompromising rock that consistently weaves through all their records."[21] Ink Blot Magazine gave it a favorable review and said that the music "is as lonely and suggestive as the title suggests".[22] gave the album a positive review and called it "A visit to desolate regions... a 60-minute, 15-song treatise on isolation, displacement and a seemingly bottomless spiritual void."[23] The Village Voice also gave it a positive review and said, "The studio scrubbing leaves no noticeable film; even the effects—like the spacey guitar that launches "Gravity Rides Everything"—ring true."[24] Melody Maker gave it three-and-a-half stars out of five and said that it was "beyond anything [the band has] ever achieved".[11] Billboard likewise gave it a positive review and said the album "may frustrate because it really is a little bit of everything".[8]

Some reviews are mixed or negative: Q gave the album three stars out of five and called it "literate post-grunge pop".[11] However, Spin gave it a score of three out of ten and said it "does show Modest Mouse willing to change. Too bad it wasn't for the better.... Mistaking subject for style, Modest Mouse has chosen to accentuate on a tendency to drift rather than an ability to write emotionally effective songs."[17]

Pitchfork Media ranked the album as the third best album of 2000, trailing Kid A by Radiohead and Ágætis Byrjun by Sigur Rós.[25] In February 2005, Pitchfork named it the seventh best album of the years 2000 through 2004.[26] The Moon & Antarctica was voted the sixth best album of the decade by Pitchfork in October 2009.[27] In 2008, betterPropaganda ranked the album number 23 in their Top 100 Albums of the 2000s.[28] Tiny Mix Tapes placed it at number 51 on their list.[29] The album ranked number 37 in Entertainment Weekly's "The New Classics," a list of the hundred best albums from 1983-2008.[30] Rhapsody ranked the album #4 on its "Alt/Indie’s Best Albums of the Decade" list.[31] In March 2009, the album was certified gold by the RIAA in the United States.[32]

Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, reported an average score of 82 based on 22 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[8]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Isaac Brock, all music composed by Isaac Brock, Eric Judy, and Jeremiah Green, except where noted.

No. Title Length
1. "3rd Planet"   3:59
2. "Gravity Rides Everything"   4:19
3. "Dark Center of the Universe"   5:04
4. "Perfect Disguise"   2:43
5. "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes"   3:44
6. "A Different City"   3:10
7. "The Cold Part"   5:03
8. "Alone Down There"   2:24
9. "The Stars Are Projectors"   8:46
10. "Wild Packs of Family Dogs" (Isaac Brock) 1:45
11. "Paper Thin Walls"   3:01
12. "I Came as a Rat"   3:48
13. "Lives" (Isaac Brock) 3:19
14. "Life Like Weeds"   6:30
15. "What People Are Made Of"   2:14

2004 re-release bonus tracks[edit]

Isaac Brock was dissatisfied with the final mix and the album artwork for The Moon & Antarctica following its original 2000 release.[33] According to an interview given in Filter in 2004, he intended to remix the album "on his own time, using his own money, simply to have a copy he alone could hear" when the label, Epic Records, offered to finance a new release.[33] The album was eventually reissued in a new mix on March 9, 2004 on a CD with new artwork and four additional tracks from a BBC Radio 1 session.[34]

No. Title Length
16. "3rd Planet" (BBC Radio Edit) 4:00
17. "Perfect Disguise"   2:59
18. "Custom Concern" (Instrumental) 1:59
19. "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes"   3:08

2010 vinyl and CD reissues[edit]

A vinyl reissue was released on April 13, 2010 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the album. The same year also saw a remastered CD reissue.[35] Both versions restored the original artwork and tracklist.


Modest Mouse[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Ben Blankenship – lap steel guitar (1,4), banjo (4), keyboards (5,11,14), guitar (8,11,15)
  • Brian Deck – keyboards (6)
  • Ben Massarella – percussion (5,7,12,15)
  • Greg Ratajczak – guitar (7)
  • Jeff Kennedy- Lap Steel Guitar (5)
  • Tyler Riley – violin (3,5,7,9,13,14)
  • Tim Rutili – background vocals (11)
  • Chiyoko Yoshida – background vocals (13)

Charting positions[edit]


Year Chart Position[1]
2000 Billboard Heatseekers 5
2000 The Billboard 200 120


  1. ^ a b "The Moon & Antarctica - Charts & Awards". Allmusic (Macrovision Corporation). Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  2. ^ a b Wood, Mikael. "Rewind: Modest Mouse and The Moon and Antarctica." par. 5. 17 Aug 2010. Web. 14 Nov 2011.
  3. ^ SpacePack. "LAZY SUNDAYS – Modest Mouse" par.6. 4 Oct 2011. Web. 8 Aug 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d Cohen, Jonathan. "Epic To Mine Indie Base For Modest Mouse Set." Billboard 112.25 (2000): 24. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2011
  5. ^ a b c Weldon, Rick. "The Making Of The Moon." Electronic Musician 17.1 (2001): 114. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.
  6. ^ Brock, Isaac. Interview by Josh Model. A.V. Club. The Onion, 2004. Web. Oct 26, 2011.
  7. ^ News. Sony Music Entertainment Inc. 2011. Online. November 2, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Critic Reviews for The Moon & Antarctica". Metacritic. Retrieved November 11, 2011
  9. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "The Moon & Antarctica - Modest Mouse." AllMusic.
  10. ^ Almost Cool Review
  11. ^ a b c Album reviews at CD Universe
  12. ^ NME Review
  13. ^ Pitchfork Media Review 1
  14. ^ Pitchfork Media Review 2
  15. ^ Robert Christgau Review
  16. ^ Rolling Stone Review
  17. ^ a b Spin Review at the Wayback Machine (archived October 22, 2000)
  18. ^ Sputnikmusic Review
  19. ^ a b Thompson, Stephen (13 June 2000). "Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica". The A.V. Club.
  20. ^ Wall of Sound Review at the Wayback Machine (archived July 11, 2000)
  21. ^ LA Weekly Review at the Wayback Machine (archived February 11, 2001)
  22. ^ Ink Blot Magazine Review at the Wayback Machine (archived August 18, 2000)
  23. ^ Review
  24. ^ The Village Voice Review
  25. ^ "Top 200 Albums of 2000". Pitchfork Media. 2001-01-01. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  26. ^ "The Top 100 Albums of 2000-04". Pitchfork Media. 2001-01-01. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  27. ^ "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 20-1". Pitchfork Media. 2009-10-02. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  28. ^ betterPropaganda's Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #23 Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica
  29. ^ Favorite 100 Albums of 2000-2009: 60-41 Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  30. ^ "The New Classics: Music — The 100 best albums from 1983 to 2008". Entertainment Weekly. 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  31. ^ "Alt/Indie’s Best Albums of the Decade". Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  32. ^ "CD Reissue of The Moon and Antarctica." Epic Epic Records. n.d. Web. November 9, 2011.
  33. ^ a b Leckart, Steve. "True Glue: John Wayne and a Not So Modest Mouse". Filter. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  34. ^ Prevatt, Mike (2004-05-13). "CDVS: Jawbreaker vs. Modest Mouse". Las Vegas Mercury (Stephens Media). Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  35. ^ "CD Reissue of The Moon & Antarctica Available Now". Epic Records. Retrieved May 6, 2011.