The Mountain Goats CD review [4AD]

Music Reviews
The Mountain Goats CD review [4AD]
Apr 26, 2005, 04:52


John Darnielle's Mountain Goats are something of an indie rock institution at this point, much like the similarly regarded Silver Jews, and the comparisons don't end there. While clearly operating from a different musical universe than Silver Jews' David Berman (Darnielle the Split Enz to Berman's Jerry Jeff Walker), they both share a gift for evocative lyrics that read like the best realist literature this side of Raymond Carver, and neither seem very capable of making a record without at least a gleam of brilliance. The Sunset Tree is, by all accounts, another jewel in Darnielle's crown, and continues where 2002's We Shall All Be Healed leaves off, with more confessional firsthand observations teetering on the side of desperation and melancholy. Lucky, then, that Darnielle's vocals are spirited as ever, lending the songs a necessary edge that keeps them from getting bogged down into anything resembling “twee.” The album is dedicated to Darnielle's stepfather, whose abusive ways are chronicled in songs like “Dance Music,” where a young Darnielle turns to the radio to ease his suffering. It's the kind of cathartic solace Darnielle hopes listeners will find in his own often riveting, deeply personal music. [4AD]

-James Jackson Toth

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