hello folks! we return to our journey through the Mountain Goats discography with their other 2002 record, Tallahassee. as i mentioned in the All Hail West Texas review, that is viewed as kind of the end of an era, and Tallahassee is very much the start of a new era: other than the full band arrangements and more traditional mastering on this record, it also represents a kind of concepting that would become more common from here on out. the concept for Tallahassee is indicated by it’s final track, Alpha Rats Nest: this is a full album about the Alpha Couple, seen throughout the discography so far, mostly on tracks that have the word “Alpha” in the title.

Tallahassee is a quiet, slow lead in, setting the scene and giving us a bit of context on our protagonists, newly moved to Tallahassee, FL, the house they’re living in, and the dead end they’ve found themselves confronting. it’s fine as a scene setter, but it is an odd choice to have something so quiet to start, imo. First Few Desperate Hours brings the energy up – i really like the guitar strum pattern that this song is built around. this isn’t menacing, but you can absolutely feel that something bad is coming, that something bad is expected. good song. Southwood Plantation Road directly addresses the home that the couple has purchased and that their marriage is rotting in. really, really dig the intro of the bass, electric, and acoustic guitars dance around each other. Game Shows Touch Our Lives takes a very intimate look at one of the big issues with this relationship – they’ve been slipping pretty deep into alcoholism. this moment is tender, but it’s also bittersweet. excellent song. The House That Dripped Blood is almost like an autopsy of the house as a metaphor for the relationship – the plodding, steady rhythm here DOES have that menacing vibe, haha. Idylls of the King flips back to a softer, tender moment – the chorus here, the repeated “all of them, all of them” def sits with me, and the line “how long will we ride this wave out?” feels like it quite succinctly sums up the track. No Children likely needs no introduction, if you’re my age and know about the Mountain Goats – the climbing, spinning, pinnacle of maladjusted dysfunction, this song is a masterwork of desperate clinging to something that’s dragging you down. See America Right was released as a single off this record, which i think was an interesting choice. it’s a song about a drunken car crash and the trip home – very neat song. Peacocks is an odd one, very melancholic. it feels like it shares a lot with Idylls of the King, though that may just be the hook, the “we will rise”, getting stuck in my brain the same way that “all of them, all of them” does. International Small Arms Trade uses the metaphor of weapons and border violence in the form of a softer ballad, to describe the couple’s relationship. there’s something kind of sweet here. Have To Explode, however, shows the honesty of the situation, and that the end is inevitable. love the bit here, the “i speak in smoke signals / you answer in code” part of the first verse. i really like Old College Try – the commitment to the end. The Oceanographer’s Choice is by no means a bad song, but i think the track i connect with the least. Alpha Rats Nest was the other track from this album that i was very familiar with before the full record – it’s an odd choice for a closer, especially because of the way Oceanographer’s Choice develops, but it’s still a very fitting track to wrap up the saga of the couple, for now at least. it’s also a kind of older Goats track, which is very nice.

faves – First Few Desperate Hours, Southwood Plantation Road, Game Shows Touch Our Lives, No Children, See America Right, Old College Try, Alpha Rats Nest
dislikes –

yeah this was a very well concepted record – you get an extremely vivid picture of the Alpha Couple and the morass they find themselves in. i think Darnielle does a quite good job of, if not directly illustrating, then at least suggesting the high points, the good times that make folks stay through these bad times. the love that, logically or not, accurately or not, leads folks into this kind of situation. i def like the sequencing and overall storytelling here, though the subject matter doesn’t offer tons of variety in topic, especially as the story doesn’t progress very far while we focus on them. very very strong record.

Tallahassee – 8/10

anyways, now that we’re out of the serious part of the review, No Children also always reminds me of this:

next up, we’re checking out We Shall All Be Healed!

once again, thanks to the Mountain Goats Wiki and the Annotated Mountain Goats site.

support the band by checking this album out on Bandcamp!

the beginning: Zopilote Machine | previous: All Hail West Texas | next: We Shall All Be Healed

all my reviews for The Mountain Goats