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The Life Of The World To Come CD

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (5 Oct. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: 4AD
  • ASIN: B002LBGBJK
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 68,010 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Format: Audio CD
One of my favourite songs of all time is "The best ever death metal band out of Denton" from the great Mountain Goats lo fi album "All hail west Texas" recorded in a sitting room and on tape. It is the story of Jeff and Sirus who "believed in their hearts, they were headed for stage lights and Lear jets and fortune and fame"

It is an appropriate epitaph for the durable Mountain Goats from North Carolina and led by the very enduring singer-songwriter John Darnielle. They have been prolific producers of music since they formed in 1991 and Darnielle has chronicled just about everything from his own abusive parents (the wonderful "Dance Music"), his distrust of religion to family oppression. The Goats masterpiece is "Sunset Tree" but I do like this new album very much.

Darnielle describes the album as "twelve new songs: twelve hard lessons the Bible taught me, kind of." It's not a religious album since he is not at all religious but it does use the bible as a template to explore some heartfelt themes

This is something like the Goats 17th album. They are hardy perennials. They will never be huge or massively popular but they keep producing class songs. Check out in this album the wonderfully upbeat Genesis 3.23, the fraught Psalms 40.2 and the brilliant confessional "1 John 4.16" possibly one of Darnielle's greatest songs who has had to cancel a recent tour due to illness. Get well soon John
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Format: Audio CD
There is always catharsis with John Darnielle's songwriting. He expresses this well indirectly through the narrator's expression in "Master of Reality", an installment he wrote in the 33&1/3 series about Black Sabbath's album:

"People always talk about good time rock and roll, Chuck Berry or whatever, like this liberating force for feeling good. But what I need in my life is to be liberated into feeling bad. Not sad. I have plenty of sad. What I need is a place where I can spray anger in sparks like a gnarled piece of electrical cable. Just be mad at stuff and soak in the helplessness. "

The songwriter has gained a true and reliable following and it is at the stage in his prolific career in which he can express what is deep in his spirit. Though this review is much delayed, especially coming from somebody who has taken a lot of inspiration in life from Darnielle. It is something that must be done though; for someone who has been inspired following listening to an album to actually empty his pockets for a dense King James Version Bible to understand it better... well, it's a priority to give it its due.

The reading of the Bible did not come until a few weeks following buying The Life of the World to Come but it was certainly influenced by it. After hearing emotionally complex pieces life Genesis 30:3 that can only really be understood in context. I appreciate that Darnielle almost forces the listener to reach to the literature he is certainly inspired by. For instance, earlier in his career you can feel the energy taken from Richard Yates and William Faulkner. You can sense that the songwriter is intensely influenced by literature, and if you love the Mountain Goats you will appreciate them all the more with reading into the lyrics more.
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Format: Audio CD
TMG are brilliant ... John Darnielle opened with 1 Samuel 15:23 at Leeds just recently.

For me the best two albums are 'Sunset Tree' and 'Heretic Pride' but this, 'The Life of the World to Come,' is well worth having.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x90fa0f6c) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9113ab4c) out of 5 stars The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come 8/10 6 Oct. 2009
By Rudolph Klapper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Another year, another Mountain Goats album. The constantly metamorphosing folk project of singer/songwriter John Darnielle, The Life of the World to Come is their 17th album in 18 years, an impressive number for any band, much less one man. Coming a little over a year and a half after 2008's excellent Heretic Pride, Life features Darnielle turning to that massive old tome which has fascinated and ensnared many a bard before him: the Bible. A concept album of sort, each title in this twelve-song set is named after a particular verse relating, in one way or another, to the intensely personal, highly literate tales that have become the Mountain Goats' hallmark.

But lest you think Darnielle has become Christian rock's newest poet, consider that the Mountain Goats have always worked their best magic under practically hymnal conditions, intertwining Darnielle's heartbreakingly honest, slice-of-life lyrics and colorful metaphors with subtle instrumentation and mellow folk. Taking up where 2005's Get Lonely left off and eschewing the fleshed-out (for the Goats, anyways) production of Heretic Pride, this latest nails just what makes the Mountain Goats such a long-lived project in a world that really doesn't reward intelligent, thoughtful songwriting. From the somber strumming of opener "1 Samuel 15:23" to the soft boil of dark closer "Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace," Darnielle uses the templates of these passages to reflect on his own life experiences, to meditate on the struggles and triumphs that mankind goes through every day and, in doing so, creates an album that strikes right at the core of the human condition.

This may sound unbearably pompous to strangers of Darnielle's work, but it's his straightforward way of doing things and imitable way with words that immediately disarm. After you've heard his fragile voice crack without any sense of self-consciousness on the frantic build-up of "Psalms 40:2" or heard his tragic recollection of a loved one's cancer and death on the poignant "Matthew 25:21," it becomes obvious that Darnielle remains one of (if not the) best songwriters of his generation. The understated production here serves only to reinforce the strength of the words at the forefront, as the Life of the World to Come is almost brazen in its stylistic singularity, maintaining the same basic mix throughout of acoustic guitar, a heavy dose of piano, and some string and orchestra flourishes courtesy of Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett. This leaves Darnielle and his wavering, all-too-imperfect vocals to sink or swim on their own. And whether he's singing an earnest tale of love on "Genesis 30:3" or narrating the thoughts of a lonely prisoner in "1 John 4:16," Darnielle is more than capable of keeping himself afloat.

To be fair, the Mountain Goats shtick does get tired over the course of the album, particularly the sobering stretch of tunes that begins with the aforementioned "1 John 4:16" and continues through "Deuteronomy 2:10." The similar feel of the down tempo tunes tends to blend into one each other, making it unfortunately difficult to tell the songs apart from each other, at least musically. Nor is Darnielle committed to creating a record that will appeal to the casual listener; The Life of the World to Come is an album in the truest sense, with perhaps only "Genesis 3:23" and "Philippians 3:20-21," with their comparatively lively pop structures, making a case for single-worthy status.

Nevertheless, what Darnielle does best is write songs that can resonate with anybody, no matter their musical disposition, and in that respect Life is a tremendous success. With some of his most naked writing in years focused by the narrative framework of the Bible and a return to the sparse accompaniment that characterized their earlier works, Darnielle and company have again created a strong contender for folk record of the year.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91021840) out of 5 stars This one is up there for sure! 8 Oct. 2009
By William Hoffknecht - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
For any and all fans of the Mountain Goats,

After listening to this album all morning, I can honestly say that this has quickly become one of my favorite tMG's albums. I do not think I enjoy is more than "We Shall Be Healed" or "All Hail West Texas", but it has already surpassed "Get Lonely" and "Heretic Pride", both albums that I love. As for its place with "Tallahassee" and "The Sunset Tree", I just think that I cannot decide yet.

The album opens slowly, not quite as understated as "Wild Sage" is for an album opener, but still soft and cool. Then we move quickly into "Psalms" which hits nicely, heavier, and still with the lyrics of John Darnielle which always echo towards a quite desperation, an overall voice of hope in a time of confusion and let-down. The album continues this pattern of softer songs, some solo type works with just John and the piano or guitar, and a few full band rockers, but nothing nearly as hard-hitting as "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" or anything along those lines.

High Points for me:
"1 John 4:16" is simply amazing. This songs sang directly to me. I could not think of anything except past loves and desires, not to mention trying to look forward in these scary times of stress and loss. Whenever John sings "I know that you thinking of me because it's just about to rain" I almost break down. I have now listen to the track at least six times and cannot get over it.

Low Point:
So if you buy from here, you get a bonus track, but also check on the apple site because they have a different bonus track that you can download as a single. I recommend spending the buck on that, but it is a low point because I hate to give apple my money at all and I hate when the record companies release songs like this, forcing you to go to a certain company that you may not like when all you want to do is listen to someone that you like.
Also, as for the album, I can see someone finding it a bit boring. It reminds me in a way of "Get Lonely" in that sense. It is slow and understating, which may turn some people away. Give it a chance and listen to it a few times. It might take a few passes to really start catching those John Darnielle lines. I know every fan of tMGs has certain lines that speak to them, so give it a shot, but as for a pop album, it can be kind of slow and lacking in dynamics.

To sum up everything here: This is a 5 star album, no doubt about it, but is it for everyone? No. This is not an album that just anyone will enjoy, but that is the same for all of the albums from The Mountain Goats. Also, give it a few passes before you place judgment. If you are a fan of the lo-fi folk style, you are not going to get any of that. If you are a fan of the "Get Lonely"/"The Sunset Tree" style, then I think you will enjoy this one for sure. With all of the piano work on this album (by far the most of any album so far by John), a lot of the songs are in the style of the tracks from "Satanic Messiah" and "Black Pear Tree".

I hope I covered the album well enough for everyone here. I know if you are new to tMGs, then all of these references will go right over you, but if you like what you have heard so far, trust me, you will soon know all of these songs and albums very well. This is just another stellar piece of artwork in a long string of brilliant albums. Get it!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9117faf8) out of 5 stars One of my absolute favorite MG albums 1 Mar. 2013
By Emily - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I adore this record. John Darnielle's songwriting is fantastic (as usual), and the instrumentation is spot on. More than one of these tracks makes me cry on the regular — so beautiful.
HASH(0x9104ff90) out of 5 stars The past is always influencing the life of the world to come 2 Feb. 2013
By River - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For my money, the best two Mountain Goats albums I’ve heard are Tallahassee and We Shall All Be Free. However, I find myself drawn to this one again and again. I would probably have to rank it at No. 3.

The second track is the one that will likely hook the most people right away, and there is really no other point on the album that reaches that loudness again. On repeat listening, it becomes clear that this is a somber, reflective story, and after all this time it is the slower songs that stick with me the most. It takes you into a dark place and ends on a slightly hopeful note, which is a display of extraordinary songwriting skill.

Based on the track titles, one might be tempted to think that there is some religious message. There isn’t, as far as I can tell. This is simply his writing style, a way to use familiar religious figures and stories and symbols to bring depth and clarity to the modern-day people who are at the center of his songs. I could go on and on, but a big part of the fun is in finding your own interpretation. I recommend buying this album, and figuring it out on your own. Not my personal favorite MG album, but still worthy of 5 out of 5 stars.
HASH(0x90e98450) out of 5 stars Art and Soul from The Mountaingoats 24 May 2010
By Mark Brumfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was almost reluctant to buy this as (except for Lovecraft in Brooklyn) I was not too wild about Heretic Pride. Life of the World to Come took me totally and pleasantly by surprise. No one goes straight to the heart like John Darnielle and I'm not talking in a sentimental or sickly sweet way. The songwriting indicates someone who took his talent and became it's master. The arrangements are perfect and some have a jazzy, Joni Mitchell feel to them that works very well. 1 John 4;16 (?) and Matthew 21;24 (tracks 8 and 9) are some of the most sublimely beautiful songs that Darnielle has ever written. Who else could write such a beautiful song about watching someone you love die as the Matthew 21;24 song proves. Hard to call one MGs album my favorite but this is up there wityh We Shall All Be Healed, The Sunset Tree and All Hail West Texas for me. This may surpass The Aeroplane Over The Sea as my favorite record of all time.
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