Reviews:: The Mountain Goats Get Lonely

How long is long enough to decide the greatness of an album? Too often, an album comes out and we all rush to review a few songs, avoiding the process of the entire album. When it comes to John Darnielle, patience is a virtue. With each listen I get something new from each of his records.

I've been a Mountain Goats fan for quite some time. Although I love some of the recent albums (Sunset Tree and Tallahassee in particular), I sort of wanted John to return to the styles he used on his earlier lo-fi recordings (All Hail West Texas and The Coroner's Gambit in particular). I miss his old Panasonic boombox recordings. It's a fine line for sure. John was a cult classic, but now John seems to be more of an Indie rock hero. This is due in large part to the fact he hooked up with super producer John Vanderslice. His prolific songwriting skills were finally noticed. The songs became lush, layered compositions. Now, John's vocals didn't crack like old vinyl and the recordings were crisp and clear. Basically, John's songs sounded like they were meant to sound.

Or maybe they weren't. The flaws in recording and in his work are one of the reason I love the Mountain Goats. The rawness of each record; the strain of John's voice. These are the things, along with John's unique ability to craft a story, I want to hear when I throw on a MG record. Even as John's strumming gets more intense, the emotion isn't clouded by layer after layer. As much as I love the song Dance Music, I just tend to migrate to the The Best Ever Metal Band in Denton.

Now we reach Get Lonely. John went another route on this record. Although the recordings are professional and he still use layers of strings and percussion, the songs are stripped down, slower and focus more on John's voice and his guitar. The sound is perfect. He revisits the rawness and emotion of his earlier work without returning to the low quality sounds and somehow manages to satisfy every one and alienates no one (well except for the fans that are hoping to hear another This Year).

I've read lots of reviews about this record. Good Hodgkins calls this album the new Either/Or. I think description is missing the point of this record. Unlike the demons that pushed Smith farther and farther into his pain, Darnielle focuses on an unwavering optimism. He's hurt and alone, but he hopes it will get better, and that hope is all he has. Listening to Wake Up New, you see how tormented John is. He's woken up alone and scared again, but he knows he needs to go on with his life, if even one day at a time. I think the line that sums up this record is the simple, but powerful, I got ready for the future to arrive.

John's brilliance shines on my favorite song, Half Dead. He paints such a vivid story about such a simple day. Sitting inside on a rainy day, packaging up her old things with their old memories, John starts to question everything. What are the years we gave each other, ever going to be worth? Who hasn't been left alone before? Who hasn't wondered where it went wrong? Unlike so many records that focus on the anger of a failed relationship, John is simply asking the question as he tries to take one small step forward.

He knows he is sad, but more importantly, he wants to move on. Most importantly, he knows eventually he will.
MP3:: Get Lonely

@ 1:47 PM, ArmondoMfume kicked the following game:



@ 3:25 PM, hobbes kicked the following game:

I don't know, I just don't know. I'm willing to give this one patience and time, the Goats deserve that, but after four listens it still hasn't got me.


@ 9:57 AM, Angus Stirling kicked the following game:

This album is kind of like Beck's Seachange in it's post relationship introspection blues. It's not the direction I was expecting The Mountain Goats to take after the energetic Babylon Springs EP and their growing popularity. I doubt it will appeal to people who are only fans of The Sunset Tree because it is a snapshot of John at an entirely different stage of his life. Gone is the frantic desperation of youth, replaced by quiet contemplation and an overwhelming sense of bittersweet yearning as John recalls and lets go of his past.


Post a Comment

Word on the Beat



Holler @ us on myspace


 Subscribe to the hill




Powered by Blogger
& Blogger Templates