The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World To Come

2009-10-14 | |

John Darnielle doesn't exactly spring to mind when we think of folk music. He doesn't exactly come to mind when we think of modern pop either; and yet the Mountain Goats are one of folk and pop's best kept secrets, whilst being one of the "hippest" bands to enjoy. With a career almost spanning 20 years, they have released a fair few albums meaning there will be no talk of "the curse of the third album" here; we're talking 17 studio albums in almost as many years. Let us dive in to The Life of the World to Come.

When I listen to something I like, I smile. When I listen to things I don't like, I usually switch them off and then write a scathing review about them in as many repetitive paragraphs about their worst features as I can find. The Mountain Goats actually made me smile ear to ear with their biblically-named songs. It's effectively how the Bible should have been written; I'd actually not be an agnostic if the Lord (whoever s/he may be) said "You know what. John Darnielle is writing the Holy Text of this religion".

It's not necessarily the most exciting album I've ever listened to, but, it's soothing. Under all the pomp and circumstance of naming your songs after verses of the bible, there's a sense of humility; of an actual sentimentality running through each song. But (and I'll even use a conjunction to start a sentence), that's what I expect from them; The Sunset Tree and the ever popular Pinklon, have gone on to prove that to me.

What's wrong with the album is that it's too good. I don't mean it's good in the 'polished' way, I mean, that not only is it good to begin with, but that it grows on you. If you're not singing 1 Samuel 15:23 by the time you're at your third listen, then you really don't like this album guys and gals. I suppose, like all albums, it can fade into mediocrity in the background after the first 5 or 6 songs. But, when it also seems to go on a downward spiral, emotionally, to the minor key of Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace, it's no surprise that the latter half of the album pales in comparison to the up-tempo first half.

No surprises here. It's a good piece of work. It's worth a listen, at least.

Overall: 7/10 - I liked the start, a lot; but it just became deeper and darker, and eventually I just had to treat it as background music. However, it's a grower, so, in the end, you'll have your own choices of tracks which you connect with and/or enjoy.

Top Track: Psalms 40:2

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