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The Life of the World to Come

The Mountain Goats
4AD

The inspired and prolific John Darnielle leads his loose band (often it’s just voice and either acoustic guitar or piano) through a dozen songs titled after biblical verses. Throughout 15 years as the head Goat, Darnielle has always been ready to pick up a gimmick and run with it a bit. Here, he’s got a doozy, but just listen to how The Mountain Goats pull it off. “Hebrews 11:40” modulated the tension of a world that’s not too far away from turning into a nightmare. “Romans 10:9” shambles along with band members taking turns gently propping up the singer’s good news, a warm, quaint arrangement style long mastered by The Waterboys. But as much as you can enjoy the rocking and rueful nostalgia of “Genesis 3:30” (which asks, don’t we all have some sort of garden we’ve been kicked out of?), the best here is “Matthew 25:21.” This quiet mix of grieving memoir and violent metaphor stops just shy of being overwritten, but it succeeds totally as a heart-wrecker.