May 24, 2017
Last Friday, The Mountain Goats released their 16th album, Goths on Merge Records. The record is the second consecutive concept from the group following 2015’s homage to wrestling, Beat the Champ. Eschewing their usual, guitar-bass-drums setup, lead singer/songwriter John Darnielle proclaimed “NO GUITARS” in the album announcement having written it primarily on a Fender Rhodes electric piano. The result is a lush, but desolate soundscape with the help of haunting vocal and woodwind arrangements from new band member Matt Douglas. Fans and newcomers alike can find something to latch onto as the band encapsulates the tumultuous youth of the lonely, weirdos, and others who found sanctuary with those like them through music.
John Darnielle has been performing music as The Mountain Goats since 1991 when he started recording bare-bones tunes with a cassette deck boombox. That humble lofi begin stuck with him until the release of Tallahassee on 4AD in 2002. Known for his highly literate lyrics, exploring the trails, folies, and small victories of a plethora of characters, Darnielle made the logical jump to novelist with Wolf in White Van in 2014 and Universal Harvester earlier this year.