One of The Mountain Goats' best albums. Darnielle approaches the themes of listless adolescence and hardcore drug addiction from avenues that are often tangential to the topics themselves, but the songs are no less engaging, compelling, and startling for it. Indeed, it's the small details that paint the whole grim picture here--the cottons left in the top drawer, the sugar piled high and white on everything the speaker in "All Along the Seething Coast" eats. Darnielle's songwriting is at its tightest since Tallahassee here and, for me, the lyrics are amongst the best Darnielle has written, and certainly trump his more recent efforts--they're abstract, often absurd, but rooted in vivid snapshots and starkly drawn concrete events. "Palmcorder Yajna" is an early standout ("Carpenter ants in the dresser/ flies in the screen/ it will be too late by the time we learn/ what these cryptic symbols mean"), and "Home Again Garden Grove" will bring the house down ("I can remember when we were in high school/ our dreams were like fugitive warlords/ plotting triumphant returns to the city/ keeping Tec-9s tucked under the floorboards"). It's a raw and often exhausting album, as all good art should be.
It probably goes without saying that I am a huge fan!
The Mountain Goats are a popular and hard working live band. But their recordings can vary dramatically in style and quality. Musically it does not get much simpler, a guitar and nasal singing voice, for the most part.
But this is a cracking selection of songs. Imagine coming home slightly drunk and hearing the best busker you ever heard in your life.
My favourite song here is Palmcorder Yajna, but there are a lot of songs on the album that I cannot imagine being without. Overall the album feels energetic and optimistic, even with its dark themes. If you like this, then I would particularly recommend All Hail West Texas, though the Mountain Goats music offers an array of riches.
These are my impressions of the album: refreshing, relaxing, well produced. The album is a lot more finely produced than anything before Tallashasse but though this sound is different, it's a very nice album. I wasn't sure what to make of it first but this is certainly not a regression, the lyrics are catchy and memorable, the acoustic is as nice as ever and John's voice is piercing in a very pleaseant way. I wouldn't call it amazing though, and some of the songs are slighty more generic imo, not in a glaring way but perhaps slighly more mainstream. This isnt negative, I like the way their sound is progressing. It's an album you could put on repeat for hours and still be captivated. Keep up the good work!