“She was going with a cinematographer / Everyone knew that he was really a pornographer!” yelps Isaac Brock at the beginning of “Lounge (Closing Time)”. He’s always had an ear for verbal rhythms—ten years later, Johnny Marr would talk about the recording process for We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank and how Brock would belt out freestyle lyrics over the two men’s guitar sessions to astonishing effects. This natural talent for flow and rhythmical pyrotechnics shows itself in his musicianship as well, as “Lounge (Closing Time)” bounces along on the disco guitar stylings that Brock often uses to inject into his compositions a hip-shaking impulse that takes their visceral results to the next level. “I’ve got a girlfriend out / Of the city / I know / I like her, I think / She is pretty” he sings later, in flawless lockstep with his stuttering riff.
“Lounge (Closing Time)” can be seen as something of a sister song to a track on the band’s previous LP, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, titled—simply—“Lounge”. Both employ those dance-inflected rhythms and jittery tension to tell tales of vaguely unsettling nighttime liaisons between Brock’s narrator and a woman, their rendezvous filtered through a general lens of drunken haziness and disturbed consciences. Both, too, begin hyperactively before slowing into extended down-tempo outros, the musical equivalent to the crash that comes after the drugs start to wear off. “They all went down and did the porcupine / And everybody was feeling high”, Brock sings with manic energy, before the line about his out-of-town girlfriend, the revelation of which brings the change in the song’s mood.
The instrumental jam in the song’s mid-section represents a climax of sorts (pun intended) a burst of release before the regretful coda sets in for the remaining two-and-a-half minutes. The only lyrics, aside from the refrain of “it’s closing time” come when Brock quotes his own “Heart Cooks Brain”: “I’m on my way to God don’t know / My brain’s the burger and my heart’s the charcoal”. It’s an expression of the dissipation that often comes after sexual release, the strange loneliness that’s quick to set in after such focused intimacy. Once again, Brock hits right at the center of our ambivalent experience. He doesn’t accept black-and-white expressions. Rather, he sets himself up as a writer of the adult world and all the dark complexity therein. Rock music has a reputation for fetishizing the adolescent, but Modest Mouse doesn’t seem particularly interested.