Issue April 5, 2011

All Eternals Deck

The Mountain Goats

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.