John Darnielle’s energetic drive to “get it down on tape” has often been indulged at the expense of careful arrangements. This is not necessarily a bad thing; poetry is the prime motivator of his work. A more nervous Weakerthans, a less nasal Bright Eyes, Darnielle quietly delights in capturing with wit and humor the angst of individuals chasing away everyday demons. This album is a game-changer. Darnielle sounds comfortable taking center stage, and knows when to whisper and when to belt it out. The captivating piano track, “Outer Scorpion Squadron,” reveals his agenda: If you really want to conjure up a ghost/Cultivate a space for the things that hurt ya most, and ends, Rake the sands until they surface/Don’t let anybody call them ugly. Few would call these tracks ugly. This is his best work yet, a masterpiece.