Different Peaks, New Horizons for The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats, 2009, 4AD

The Mountain Goats, 2009, 4AD

Despite having twelve tracks named after Bible verses, The Mountain Goats’ third album The Life of the World to Come is a far cry from Christian rock.

Lead vocalist John Darnielle carries The Mountain Goats into new horizons, trading in his trademark scratchy vocals (imagine a cross between Bob Dylan and Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie) for a more refined (dare I say generic?) melodic voice. It seems as if songs like “This Year” and “Cotton,” are a thing of the past, yet, fans of the “old” Mountain Goats, do not fret, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Accompanied by a very mellow guitar, Darnielle’s lyrics take biblical passages’ themes, and make them incredibly dark, yet hopeful at the same time. The track “Matthew 25:21” includes a plane crash, a truck crash, and a case of cancer, yet  the song tries to redeem itself saying, “I won’t get better/But someday I’ll be free/Cause I am not this body that imprisons me.” Awfully morbid yet, strangely hopeful to say the least.

This is not the typical album one might toss in the CD player for serene sunny Sunday afternoon in San Diego, yet there is a strange comfort found in the steady strumming of the acoustic guitar. A staple of The Mountain Goats, which keeps the songs going, and ultimately seems to sooth anyone who can get past the lyrics. The tone of The Life of the World to Come seems like that of a lonely drive right after dusk, yet the album simultaneously hits the listener with a shot of hope.

Fans of The Mountain Goats’ The Life of the World to Come, check out Sondre Lerche’s  album Two Way Monologues or anything by Sufjan Stevens or As Tall as Lions.

The Mountain Goats begin their US tour on November 4th. Be sure to check them out at www.mountain-goats.com.