I can’t speak for how everyone else has been dealing with 2017 so far, but for me I feel like a big part of it has been knowing when and when not to recede into one’s self. It can be hard to want to leave the house or engage with the world and what’s happening out there, and so a lot of times it feels right to just stay inside, put on some music and, you know, brood. And since I’m guessing you’ve already read what the title of this album is, you can probably see where I’m going with this.
But I don’t think it’s just the grey clouds that seem to hang over any fleeting moments of joy in this sad reality of ours that makes Goths feel like a top tier Mountain Goats album. Though it’s certainly a more interesting narrative than the biggest, most obvious, most boringest explanation for why Goths is a more than welcome anti-summer album on the verge of summer. It’s that John Darnielle simply writes very good songs, and he’s always especially on his game when he’s writing about the kinds of sensitive, troubled souls that populate the songs on this latest Mountain Goats release.
So I think for a band with that kind of steady foundation, the key to any late career album is how they attempt to rattle its bedrock. Which in this case would be Goth‘s complete lack of guitars, perhaps the most recognizable instrument in the Mountain Goats’ signature sound, other than Darnielle’s voice and its undying nasal sincerity. And somehow, despite my undying affinity for any and all guitar-based music, I don’t really miss the old six string here.
As I said, it’s Darnielle’s keen ear for astutely observed, character-driven songwriting that has fueled so many worthwhile Mountain Goats albums that they’re kind of hard to keep track of at this point. Which fortunately, makes this an album that you don’t necessarily need to be a fan of goth music to enjoy (though I do get a kick out of the reverb-drenched bass passage in “Shelved” that reeks of The Cure). No, you just need to be a fan of the Mountain Goats to enjoy Goths, who I realize aren’t necessarily for everybody. But perhaps it’s their cult-like “nobody else gets it” quality that makes them such a good fit for this subject matter. So brood on, everybody. Brood on…
Favorite Tracks: “We Do It Different On The West Coast”, “Paid In Cocaine”, “Shelved”