The Mountain Goats With Special Guest Pinkish Black

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The Mountain Goats With Special Guest Pinkish Black
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The Kessler says
The success of the Mountain Goats speaks to a market inefficiency in indie rock. College rock repudiated the literalism of hardcore, spawning two decades of elliptical, allusive works. The Goats weren’t the sole torchbearers of directness in the ’90s and ’00s, but they boasted a deep catalog of earnest, structurally simple works. Pick any of a hundred entry points into their songbook; I’m sure we could construct a thousand best-ofs between us. (I mentioned that no one Goats album sticks out as particularly acclaimed, but 2002’s “No Children” and 2005’s “This Year” would seem to be, far and away, the songs with the furthest reach.)

Darnielle has spoken often about his songs being short stories. Until 2004’s We Shall All Be Healed, he was keeping the personal stuff at arm’s length. (Although you can certainly argue, a la Yoko Ono, that all art is inescapably about the artist.) As for the actors within these songs: they’re a rough bunch. Most everyone is hungry for something: good news, revenge, a split. Often, they’re hungry for food. A lot of time is spent comprehending — or trying to comprehend — a lover, a friend, a mortal enemy.

That’s not to say that his ragged crew is a set of unmoved movers. The psychogeography of a Mountain Goats album is invariably as thick as a cloud of gnats. Most narrative lyricists depict a situation by getting into the narrator’s thoughts; often as not, Darnielle likes to get in through the screen door out back. Songs hinge on a scuffle in the kitchen, the sight of a peacock in the front lawn, copulation on the boggy Scottish earth.

Always, there’s a real empathy. He’s not putting his characters through their existential paces, springing cruelty or failure on them. His population typically boasts fiery wills, the certainty of their decisions, and the singlemindedness of a Captain Ahab who’s perpetually late on the mortgage. The couplet I’ve seen quoted most often belongs to Zopilote Machine‘s “Going To Georgia”: “The most remarkable thing about you standing in the doorway is that it’s you / and that you’re standing in the doorway.” The narrator, of course, isn’t being dug lovestruck out of a closet; he (or she) is bearing down on Atlanta with a revolver and a maniacally beating heart.

- Stereogum
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By: The Kessler

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