published: 30 /
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.
Rain in Soho
Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back to Leeds
The Grey King and the Silver Flame Attunement
We Do It Different on the West Coast
Stench of the Unburied
Paid in Cocaine
Rage of Travers
For the Portuguese Goth Metal Bands
For the West Coast Dark Ambient Bedroom Warriors
Scaling the Well