published: 30 /
Refreshingly honest and sublime latest album from the Mountain Goats, the project of American cult musician John Darnielle
In the liner notes from his latest album John Darnielle, the songwriter and driving force of the Mountain Goats, sets out the wildly disparate range of topics his is forced to let his intense alt-country songs to roll over. As on all his albums, it does appear to be this way round; Mountain Goats songs always seem to be slightly out of control, even the control of their creators.
It is this sense of being slightly out of control that lends such force to Darnielle’s writing. His choice of subjects swerves wildly. Most of the songs here are deceptively simple yet perfectly constructed tales that may chronicle anything from (on this album) H.P. Lovecraft’s time in Brooklyn, the final moments of a lynched heretic, or the death of Prince Far I. While this might seem wilfully eclectic or pretentious the simplicity – both in the construction and the delivery – lends it all a refreshing honesty.
Darnielle has also taken some steps sure to please long term fans. Gone are the situations drawn from his own life that have graced recent albums 'The Sunset Tree' and 'Get Lonely'. While the first’s examination of his troubled upbringing and the second’s heartbreaking chronicle of his relationship breakdown were perhaps more poignant than anything he has written before it is nice to see him reverting to his own, doubtless fevered, imagination.
Back also is the Bright Mountain Choir who last provided backing vocals for the Mountain Goats a decade ago. Their presence is like the presence of the other musicians here though – their purpose is simply to provide inch perfect backing for Darnielle’s sublime songwriting.
His choice of subject material and the hints of wildness bubbling under the surface of his music mean the Mountain Goats are likely to remain a cult phenomenon. The talent of Darnielle though means they will remain the most compelling, exciting and challenging band you are likely to find.
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