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Mountain Goats
Heretic Pride
(4AD)

At this point, The Mountain Goats create albums that shift between the various forms their music has taken, equal parts folk, rock, and orchestral pop. Additionally, head Mountain Goat John Darnielle has decided to move past his recent foray into autobiographical concept albums. Like his pre-4AD days, Heretic Pride’s songs share little-to-no conceptual design. Instead, these songs each exist on their own, sharing little more than great writing and performance.

Darnielle is again joined by Peter Hughes and a small collection of string and keyboard players. Together they craft lovely, rhythmic orchestral folk and pop songs, from the low-key drama of “San Bernardino” to the pastoral “Tianchi Lake,” which kicks off the final third of the album. This final segment is light and airy, folk songs that do little more than act as background for the detailed stories they carry along, each affecting in their own way.

As wonderful as the quieter moments are (Darnielle has always had a knack for the quietly sad moments like these), it’s the rest of the album that really makes this collection great. On these songs, Superchunk’s Jon Wurster plays drums, giving the music a kinetic energy that previously had only been hinted at by the group. Wurster’s playing has always been some of the best in indie rock. His style has a swing to it few rock drummers display, always playing around the beat, never right on it. With him drumming, the rhythm that is always inherent to Darnielle’s guitar playing really comes out, and his more frenetic vocal moments have a strong foundation to take off from. It’s because of this additional rhythmic feel that songs like the opener “Sax Rohmer #1” and “Autoclave” demand repeated listens. It’s also this full band treatment that makes the near-anthem title track one of The Mountain Goats’ best songs yet. Here, over a syncopated beat, Darnielle tells the story of a heretic publicly executed. The drums and the heavenly melody drive home the true power of the song: the heretic is filled with joy at achieving transcendence at the hands of those who hate and fear him. Like so many Mountain Goat songs, this one is amazing.


-Jeremy


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Wednesday, July 30, 2014 All Contents Copyright © 2014 Stinkweeds Music