This review is dedicated to the Mighty One, without whose long-forgotten inexplicable habit of calling her friends ‘mountain goats’ this CD would never have been picked up. The cover, which for your information, looks like the front window of the Troubadour juxtaposed on a night forest, makes this one an attractive coaster, should it turn out to be unworthy.
The opener, aka the title track is an affable enough strum along in the mould of Turin Brakes. Think Coldplay without the castrated whining of Chris Martin. ‘First Few Desperate Hours’ is the song David Gray wanted to but never wrote. The songs concern rural life, presented by a convincing Bob Dylan impersonator. It’s likeable, it’s meaningful and entertaining at the same time but not outstanding, which is, superficially, the story of the Mountain Goats – competency. The sole thread holding me prisoner to them is their lyrical ingenuity, which weaves much welcomed threads of the legendary Tom Lehr and Dylan, and their general Turin Brakes style, laid back sincerity. John Darnielle draws the listener into their world of parody, imitations and irreverence, with his emotive, robust vocals – the ultimate actor, which, I can’t stress enough, makes indie music, this one time, exciting.
Darnielle makes a joke, he sings with a conviction seen only in those singing from real experience ‘people say friends don’t destroy one another, what to they know about friends’, in ‘Game Shows Touch Our Lives’. Another highlight is ‘The House that Dripped Blood’, with a brass band, harmonica and tambourine, backing the refrain of ‘the cellar door is an open throat’. Poignant. ‘No Children’ is an evilly tinged strum-along, worth a listen for it’s deliberately satirical sounding piano parts. ‘See America Right’ is the fifties teenage rant, with Elvis and the blues of BB King brought together with the ravaged vocals of an escaped convict. ‘International Small Arms Traffic Blues’ is a satirical rant on a failed relationship. So hilariously juxtaposed, that it will strike a cynical chord in those who live in the midst of world war three. Part two of this is ‘Old College Try’, which, I have now turned off, because songs never make me cry, those who know me say I’m the furthest thing from an emo-kid, detachment, resilience and irrevererence personified, but this one just did. More genius is shown on the ‘Oceanographer’s Choice’ and the final track, the proverbial ‘shit happens’ of ‘Alpha Rats Nest’.
So there we have it, a surprise, and a lovely one too. Thank you Risheka, you saved the Mountain Goats from the microwave.
9Sajini Wijetilleka's Score