morning folks! we’re continuing our journey through the Mountain Goats discography with The Coroner’s Gambit, released in 2000.

i dig Jaipur as an opener. it’s got an almost threateningly measured pace to it, and i think the chorus here works really well. the mix on Elijah brings John Darnielle’s voice the front in a way that very few tracks have this far into the discography, and i really appreciate it. i dig me a good shouty Mountain Goats song but some of his softer songs are really nice. Trick Mirror is fine – it describes Nero’s mentor watching him fall into madness, which is an interesting premise but musically i’m not super invested in this one. Island Garden Song is delightful – the chords around the chorus are extremely bright in a really nice way. the title track, The Coroner’s Gambit, is a p solid track – really shines in the “didn’t want”s of the bridge. Baboon is incredibly intense – the full instrumentation suite brought in on this one does a lot over the what, melodica core of the track? Scotch Grove feels like it’s in continuity with Baboon, though it might be that several of the “disfunctional relationship” tracks are bunched together here. the “shitty ass car ride home” vibes here are phenomenally bad. excellent work. Horseradish Road, also about a tense car ride, also feels like it’s deliberately continuing the vibes, though im less into this track. Family Happiness appears to be one of the more popular tracks from this record, and it was the first one to really jump out at me for sure. it’s more shitty car ride vibes! they’re tense! they’re driving towards disaster! i can’t look away from an inevitable crash! another great track. Onions is a downright delightful springtime song. this is one i could see growing on me a lot. “Bluejays and Cardinals” is a very sad song. i know this record is intended to deal quite heavily with death but we rarely get a sweet love song like this, so it’s a real sucker punch to hear something with this kind of bittersweet positivity. Shadow Song echoes that feeling, sung tenderly to someone who’s still there as opposed to “Bluejays and Cardinals”‘s more eulogistic tone. both tracks are a tribute to a friend of John’s, Rozz Williams, who was also a musician. i know from my listenings that a lot of the Mountain Goat’s most tender love songs are incredibly domestic moments, like There Will Be No Divorce’s quiet night, watching a lover sleep. very sweet song. Insurance Fraud #2 is a fun track, though i’m predisposed to like Mountain Goats songs that have 2 in the title, haha. The Alphonse Mambo is, almost not surprisingly at all, an Alpha Couple song. We Were Patriots rounds the tracklist out. this one references some stuff a few things from the cover of the record, and is a very pleasant little outro.

faves – Island Garden Song, Scotch Grove, Family Happiness, The Alphonse Mambo
dislikes –

yeah this was a real solid collection of tracks. i liked that it kinda shifted the vibes – a lot of biblical and historical references that bled into the troubled relationships, that went into more quiet musings on springtime and death, it all flows very very well and i think it’s helped a lot by the way the tracks are grouped together. definitely huge progress here in terms of actual audio quality too – the Annotated Mountain Goats site (more on that below) mentions that conceptually, this record had a high production version and a low production version, and you can kinda feel some of the songs pulling in one direction or the other on this record. on the whole, very neat record.

The Coroner’s Gambit – 6/10

next up, we have the last of the compilation records – Ghana – released in 2002 when they reissued the other two compilation records.

one of my friends mentioned, after hearing i’d been using the Mountain Goats wiki, that i’d likely enjoy the content on the Annotated Mountain Goats site, and they were right! definite treasure trove of discussion, both of the references and of the stuff John Darnielle’s said about material from this period. check them out for sure!

the beginning: Zopilote Machine | previous: Bitter Melon Farm | next: Ghana

all my reviews for The Mountain Goats