The Moon & Antarctica

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The Moon & Antarctica
Studio album by Modest Mouse
Released June 13, 2000
Recorded July–November 1999
Studio Clava Studios in Chicago, Illinois
Genre Indie rock[1]
Length 59:43
Label Epic
Producer Brian Deck
Modest Mouse chronology
Building Nothing Out of Something
(2000)Building Nothing Out of Something2000
The Moon & Antarctica
Sad Sappy Sucker
(2001)Sad Sappy Sucker2001
Alternative covers
Promo cover (2000)
Promo cover (2000)
Reissue cover (2004)
Reissue cover (2004)

The Moon & Antarctica is the third studio 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 vinyl. The album peaked at number 120 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart.[2]

The album was acclaimed and praised by fans and critics alike both for its in-depth discussion of dense subject matter and 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 budget and tools as well as the production of Brian Deck.[3] 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."[4]


The album was the band's first released by a major record label, being issued on Epic Records.[5] 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.[5]"

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.[3] 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.[6] When Modest Mouse band members arrived for the recording, the studio was not completely finished.[6] 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,[5] "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.[5]"

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.[7] "It laid him up in the hospital for a week," Deck says. "Then his jaw was wired shut for two or three months."[6]

The recording for the album took 5 months, beginning in July 1999 and running until November 1999.[8]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 82/100[9]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[10]
The Austin Chronicle 4/5 stars[11]
The List 4/5 stars[12]
Melody Maker 3.5/5 stars[13]
NME 7/10[14]
Pitchfork 9.8/10[15]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[17]
Select 4/5[18]
The Village Voice A−[19]

The Moon & Antarctica was released to positive reviews from music critics. Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, reported an average score of 82 based on 22 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[9] Stephen Thompson of The A.V. Club felt that The Moon & Antarctica was the band's "weirdest record yet" and would downplay worries that Modest Mouse's move to a major label "would smooth out the edges of the group's brash, jerky sound", calling it a "sort of concept album about cold and distant places" held together by "a strange sort of precision, lending lurching power to the strongest material."[20] Nick Catucci of The Village Voice noted the album's more streamlined production, in contrast to the lo-fi quality of their previous work, and complimented the fact that "the studio scrubbing leaves no noticeable film; even the effects—like the spacey guitar that launches 'Gravity Rides Everything'—ring true."[21] Heather Phares of AllMusic felt that the production enhanced the album's introspective tone and called the album "their most cohesive collection of songs to date" and "an impressive, if flawed, map of Modest Mouse's ambitions and fears."[10] Melody Maker praised The Moon & Antarctica as being "beyond anything else they've ever achieved".[13]

Robert Christgau of The Village Voice remarked that Isaac Brock "may be every bit the ass he claims, but basically he seems chagrined that he was ever so inept or unlucky as to get caught up in this, as the saying goes, downward spiral. And unlike other rock pessimists we might name, he's so modest about it that he ends up with an uplifting representation of human life as damn shame."[19] Brent DiCrescenzo of Pitchfork described The Moon & Antarctica as an "intoxicating mix of uncertainty and confidence".[15] LA Weekly's Rita Neyler called the album "darker and colder" than the band's previous work, but nonetheless representative of "the very particular blend of peculiar lyrics and uncompromising rock that consistently weaves through all their records."[22] In a negative review, Spin's Chris Ryan felt that "mistaking subject for style, Modest Mouse has chosen to accentuate on a tendency to drift rather than an ability to write emotionally effective songs."[23]


Pitchfork ranked The Moon & Antarctica as the third best album of 2000, trailing Kid A by Radiohead and Ágætis byrjun by Sigur Rós.[24] The album ranked at number 49 on The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop year-end critics' poll.[25] Pitchfork later named it the seventh best album of the years 2000 through 2004 and the sixth best album of the decade.[26][27] Tiny Mix Tapes placed it at number 51 on their decade-end list.[28] The Moon & Antarctica was included in Entertainment Weekly's "The New Classics," a list of the one hundred best albums released within 1983 to 2008.[29] Rhapsody ranked the album at number four on its "Alt/Indie's Best Albums of the Decade" list.[30]

As of October 2006 the album has sold 492,000 copies in United States. [31] In March 2009, The Moon & Antarctica was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.[32] In 2015, Vitamin String Quartet paid tribute to the album by covering it in its entirety.


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".[33] Epic Records then offered to remaster the album to CD, reissuing it on March 9, 2004 with remastered audio, new artwork and four additional tracks from a BBC Radio 1 session.[34] Stephen M. Deusner of Pitchfork rated the remastered edition a 5.0 out of 10, writing highly of the original album itself but questioning the decision to re-release it just four years after its initial release, calling the additional material "paltry offerings" and commenting that "no one was really asking for it, and there's simply not enough here to justify the expense or even a rating as high as the original."[35]

A vinyl and CD reissue was released on April 13, 2010 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the album, with both versions reverting to the original artwork and track listing.[36] On April 27, 2015, Music on Vinyl reissued the album in two different variations in Europe, with one featuring remastered audio on transparent 180g vinyl in a production run limited to 500 pressings, and the other on standard black vinyl.[37] Both removed the "locked groove" previously found on side 1 at the end of "Perfect Disguise".

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
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



Chart (2000) Peak
US Billboard 200[2] 120
US Heatseekers Albums (Billboard)[38] 5


  1. ^ "The 50 Best Indie Rock Albums of the Pacific Northwest". Pitchfork. Condé Nast. September 6, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Modest Mouse Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Wood, Mikael. "Rewind: Modest Mouse and The Moon and Antarctica." par. 5. 17 Aug 2010. Web. 14 Nov 2011.
  4. ^ SpacePack. "LAZY SUNDAYS – Modest Mouse" par.6. 4 Oct 2011. Web. 8 Aug 2012.
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ a b c Weldon, Rick. "The Making Of The Moon." Electronic Musician 17.1 (2001): 114. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.
  7. ^ Brock, Isaac. Interview by Josh Model. A.V. Club. The Onion, 2004. Web. Oct 26, 2011.
  8. ^ News. Sony Music Entertainment Inc. 2011. Online. November 2, 2011.
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  12. ^ Harley, Kevin (July 20, 2000). "Modest Mouse: The Moon and Antarctica (Domino)". The List (391). Retrieved July 24, 2015. 
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  16. ^ Chonin, Neva (July 6, 2000). "The Moon & Antarctica". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 24, 2015. 
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  30. ^ "Alt/Indie's Best Albums of the Decade". Rhapsody. Archived from the original on November 29, 2009. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
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  36. ^ "CD Reissue of The Moon & Antarctica Available Now". Epic Records. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  37. ^ "Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica // Music On Vinyl [LTD To 500]". The Limited Press. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
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