Every time I have to face a long journey with the car there are two discs that can not be missed in the collection of mp3 that I bring with me for the travel. These are All Eternals Deck and Transcendental Youth, two LPs in the long discography of The Mountain Goats which have been published, respectively, in 2011 and 2012. I think I have heard these works hundreds and hundreds of times, never losing the pleasure for their songs.
As a passionate fan of the American band I was quite puzzled (and a bit disappointed) when a couple of years ago they released the album Beat the Champ, their concept album on professional wrestling (!), and I was definitely curious about their latest publication, Goths, which has been released on May 2017. The discs by The Mountain Goats may be fully appreciated only after a while: you typically require subsequent listening to familiarize with the songs and fully enjoy both the musical dynamics and the stories told in their songs. After the first few times that the disc played in my music reader, however, I can already say that (fortunately) they’ve come back to a more enjoyable and interesting musical style with respect to the controversial 2015 album, although we are still far from the peaks that the band reached in the early years of 2010 with the two albums I mentioned at the beginning of my review.
The Mountain Goats are one of the most prolific bands of the American indie scene. Their leader, the singer-songwriter John Darnielle, has written more than 600 songs now, and the band, with their latest album Goths, has reached the sixteenth studio LP of their career in 23 years since their formation.
The first thing that you notice in their last work is the absence of any guitar. The group is famous for applying a precise stylistic choice to each of the disks they publishe, it may address the music or the themes. In this case it was the turn of the instrumentation. The songs develop around bass lines, vocals and horns. The result is definitely interesting, although we miss somewhere the acoustic and low-profile sound we appreciated in their earlier works. Beyond the instrumental aspect, the songs of the album are absolutely emotional and profound, with a couple of songs that stand out for their beauty (Rain in Soho is one of them). Personally I still prefer the more immediate and “indie” guitar-solo approach tthat he band embraced in the past, but if the results are like those of this album, I’m keen and ready to enjoy this diversion.
The results of all this ambition are decidedly mixed. It’s admirable to see a group of musicians who’ve been working together for so long and who continue to keep up a steady pace of releases put out a record this adventurous. But many of their musical experiments — from smooth jazz interludes to messy, horn-heavy outros — fall flat. (Consequence of Sound)
Goths sounds nothing like goth rock, but maybe, Darnielle seems to suggest, every goth rocker is destined to write their own bookish, soft-rock opus about nights doing cocaine while listening to Bauhaus. (Pitchfork)