Halfway through September, I am convinced that the fine folks at 4AD must be considered to front runners for the record label of the year. I mean, between Mojave 3's Puzzles Like You, the new Scott Walker, M. Ward, and TV on the Radio, you would think it was enough. But then I listened to the new Mountain Goats record, Get Lonely and I was just floored. It's up there with Mojave 3 and Asobi Seksu's Citrus as a favorite album of the year candidate for me.
I'll be honest. At first this album didn't hit me as hard as I would have thought. Earlier Mountain Goats efforts were very accoustic guitar driven. It was in fact only the accoustic guitar and the pleasantly annoying voice of John Darnielle. You had no choice but to focus on the lyrics. And the lyrics were beautiful, and devistating. Tons of songs about love and love lost. And travel and it was just how I wanted them to sound. When the Mountain Goats moved to 4AD the sound got progressively more lush. I still think Tallahassee may be their finest hour, and that was a 4AD record, so, I was not entirely against the all together more new lush sound. But I am unsure maybe if I was ready for how "pretty" Get Lonely would be at points.
In one review of Get Lonely there was this little snippet...
I introduced myself to John Darnielle after his performance at this summer's Festival, and this conversation happened:
Darnielle: Have you heard the new album?
Me: Yeah, I just got it.
Darnielle: What do you think?
Me: I've only heard it a couple of times; I'm still processing.
Darnielle: Do you have a girlfriend?
Me: Yeah, she's right over...
Darnielle: I hope she leaves you. Then you'll understand it.
He was joking. I think.
Besides the fact that this reviewer actually could say "I'm still processing" with a straight face I find that conversation pretty funny. Get Lonely is heartbreaking stuff.
Some lyrical moments...
on the morning when I woke up without you for the first time,
I felt free.
and I felt lonely.
and I felt scared.
the first time I made coffee for just myself,
I made too much of it.
but I drank it all,
just 'cause you hate it when I let things go to waste.
i lay right down next to you
held your head against my chest.
and a guy with any kind of courage
would maybe stop to think the matter through
maybe hold you still and raise the question,
instead of blindly holding on to you.
but we crank up the heat
and you giggle and moan,
spend all night in the company of ghosts, always wake up alone
Wow, that's a lot of text already. But, the whole album is pepperred with stuff like this. Either a man trying to get through a relationship that has broken, or deal with the aftermath once it is pronounced broken. The man wonders around alone. Talks to himself. Is scared. Almost anyone has been there at some point before. Which, is why in my opinion this record is more accessable than the Sunset Tree which was a more autobiographical account of a broken house. As opposed to older Mountain Goats records, this is gentler, prettier, all those words. You have some delicate finger picking. We have strings now. Chimes. Soft piano. To me it initially was a distraction to the lyrics, but I think that's just cause I am used to the older Mountain Goats sound, even though they have been moving this direction for years now. Now, I think it fits the album perfectly.
At any rate, Here is a video for Woke Up New one of the better moments on the album. And here is a page of older Mountain Goats mp3's.
And for the record, my full endorsement of this album does not neccessarily mean I am spending my time just moping around being depressed, at least not all of my time.