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Mountain Goats - Goths

  by Daniel Cressey

published: 30 / 6 / 2017

Mountain Goats - Goths
Label: Merge Records
Format: CD


Abstract but haunting latest concept album from the Mountain Goats upon which front man John Darnielle sympathetically examines the 80's Gothic movement

The Mountain Goats continue their examination of marginalised subcultures with their latest album 'Goths'. While 2015’s 'Beat the Champ' used professional wrestling as a jumping off point for frontman John Darnielle’s tales of broken people and things, this release looks sympathetically at those whose lives revolve around black clothes and The Cure. This should be fertile ground for Darnielle, who has always proven adept at building songs around tales of outcasts and their tribulations. But for 'Goths' he has a made a big shift, and completely ditched guitars for an electric piano. The Mountain Goats have long moved away from the resolutely lo-fi guitar only approach that produced classic songs such as 'The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton' (music about music cropping up again), with recent releases including horn sections and the band playing shows with an accapella group. Long-time fans may have a hard time adjusting to a whole album without any signature Mountain Goats strumming though. Darnielle still tells a fine tale. The album’s standout track is an imagined return of the Sisters of Mercy’s singer to his old stamping ground - 'Andrew Eldritch is Moving Back to Leeds'. Much of the rest of album is decidedly laid back and slow. His singing here is gentler and more expressive than ever before, sometimes straying into almost spoken word. Apart from opening track 'Rain in Soho', nothing here builds up a head of steam let alone anger. But much of the point of this is a look back through older - if not wider - eyes at goths past. Despite nods to lost goth band Gene Loves Jezebel and tracks like 'For the Portuguese Goth Metal Bands', this is far from just an album about goths. Like 'Beat the Champ' it uses its material as a jumping off point for a series of loving, even beautiful, vignettes about people. With 'Goths' Darnielle moves even further away from the roots of the Mountain Goats, and the sound that made the band adored. But this is an album that long standing fans should grow to love, whether or not they care for the purported subject matter.

Track Listing:-
1 Rain in Soho
2 Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back to Leeds
3 The Grey King and the Silver Flame Attunement
4 We Do It Different on the West Coast
5 Unicorn Tolerance
6 Stench of the Unburied
7 Wear Black
8 Paid in Cocaine
9 Rage of Travers
10 Shelved
11 For the Portuguese Goth Metal Bands
12 Abandoned Flesh
13 For the West Coast Dark Ambient Bedroom Warriors
14 Scaling the Well
15 Vanishing Act
16 Grave Dust

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live reviews

Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, 19/11/2015
Mountain Goats - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, 19/11/2015
Daniel Cressey watches Americana act the Mountain Goats play a bleak but compelling show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London to promote their latest album 'Beat the Champ' on which front man John Darnielle’s songwriting focuses on the professional wrestling world
Mountain Goats
KOKO, London, 26/5/2011
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Union Chapel, London, 8/12/2007
Scala, London, 23/11/2005
ICA, London. 30/3/2004

favourite album

All Hail West Texas (2013)
Mountain Goats - All Hail West Texas
In our Re:View section, in which our writers look back on albums from the past, Dan Cressey examines lo-fi act Mountain Goats' 2002 album 'All Hail West Texas', which has recently been reissued

digital downloads


Beat the Champ (2015)
Eccentric but enthralling new album from off-kilter North Carolina bandt the Mountain Goats, upon which front man John Darnielle’s songwriting focuses on the world of professional wrestling
The Life of the World to Come (2009)
Heretic Pride (2008)

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