The Mountain Goats Get Lonely on LP
Releasing music as The Mountain Goats in various permutations - first as a quintet, then as a duo, often by himself - the songs of default Californian John Darnielle generally dwell on one or a combination of five subjects: conflicts within relationships that lead to irreducible contradictions, food, water, the mythology of pre-Columbian Mexico, and animals that can talk. Since 1995, the general rule was for Mountain Goats albums to feature a mixture of home-recorded and studio songs, but that changed in 2002 with the release of All Hail West Texas, and also saw Darnielle signing to 4AD.
The first fruit of this new relationship was Tallahassee, recorded in November 2002 in upstate New York with producer Tony Doogan and released two months later. Second album for 4AD - 2004's We Shall All Be Healed - marked a change in approach by revisiting and reconstructing a dark period in Darnielle's life. Third album - 2005's The Sunset Tree proved to be the most richly rewarding album in The Mountain Goats' wildly extensive discography thus far.
However, 2006's Get Lonely met the challenge of following up on the great success of The Sunset Tree by sounding completely different. If its predecessor derived its power and energy from an unblinking exorcism of personal demons, Get Lonely was perhaps the quiet, haunted aftermath. Musically, it's a quiet triumph. These elegiac songs are all warmly collaborative affairs, with Darnielle and his long-term collaborators Peter Hughes and Franklin Bruno forming an ensemble captured playing live in the studio - the album murmurs with a modest but entirely surefooted confidence.
Other treats in store include the luminous cello playing of Erik Friedlander, the lithe, almost-jazz drumming of Corey Fogel and the multifarious instrumental touches supplied or inspired by producer Scott Solter. And, as ever, Darnielle's lyrics are marvelous - stripped back, this time, but incredibly expressive. Splashes of visual color and arresting images abound. Even at its most languid, Get Lonely is never merely pretty; even at its most troubled, it is never merely dark. It is, in fact, a delicately nuanced gem - an uncannily coherent and subtly redemptive record which has come to be seen as one The Mountain Goats' most resonant, assured and magical collections.