hello folks! this week, we’re taking a look at the Mountain Goat’s 2004 album, We Shall All Be Healed. based on the liner notes and the things that John Darnielle has said about the record, , We Shall All Be Healed is an album about Darnielle’s youth, especially his time in Southern California and Portland, OR, though the names have been changed and the location has been moved specifically to Pomona, CA. let’s check it out!

Slow West Vultures is the opener for We Shall All Be Healed – there’s a tense, waiting energy on this song. Palmcorder Yajna has a neat vibe – its fuzzier, with the acoustic guitar doing a lot (but not all!) of the driving force for this song. lyrically, it feels desparate, like being driven down a path that is a dead end. i really like the camera imagery in the second verse. very cool song. Linda Blair Was Born Innocent has an excellent intro. it is an interesting contrast to Palmcorder – there’s an almost nostalgic, romantic sense to the vagrant energt here. the violins REALLY dont help dissuade that romanticism, haha. Letters From Belgium, on initial listen, reminded me of John Carpenter’s The Thing. an isolated, tight-knit community, with undercurrents of unrest, and communication from afar. i dont think the vibes are off base, even if its applied to an isolated social group in a city, haha. The Young Thousands is really really good – a bright, rising song. i think my favorite bits here are about the ghosts – the line “the ghosts that haunt your building are prepared to take on substance” in particular stands out. Your Belgian Things is absolutely heartbreaking – it suggests a narrator who is witnessing someones things being taken away from a shared place, either because their acquaintance went somewhere better or worse, but who is unable to participate, to act, to be more than effected by the departure. Mole is another sad one, in a different way – i feel like the implication here is someone surfacing for a moment of clarity in response to a tragedy. Garden Grove is a more aggressive, self-destructive song. All Up the Seething Coast is an interesting, quiet moment. a lot of this record is rebellious, angry, or despairing, but this track, musically, feels a lot more muted. Quito is very much an “itll be better in the future” song. i dig it. Cotton feels a lot like a soft crash – a bit chaotic, but soothing nonetheless. Against Pollution is another milder one, musically at least. i dont have many feelings about this one. Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into the Water, Triumph Of, seems to be a track about one of the characters on this record that has been “caught”, and a decision is being made about them that is outside their control. it seems a fitting end to the record, to have the narrator brought to the end of this phase of their life, one way or another.

faves – Palmcorder Yajna, Linda Blair Was Born Innocent, The Young Thousands
dislikes –

despite being fairly familiar with the locations on this record (i grew up in SoCal, in a place named dropped in the liner notes, and lived a block from where Darnielle says he lived and knew folks in Portland), the huge emphasis on drug use and abuse makes a lot of the subject matter on this record makes it feel very foreign. this record is tense – there’s struggles with alienation and dependency, and i think it’s a very moving narrative framing, even if it was one i didn’t connect with extremely deeply as i have with other projects. i suspect this is a record where parts of it will grow on me with time, and one i am very interested in revisiting with more time and more perspective.

We Shall All Be Healed – 6/10

next up, we’re checking out The Sunset Tree!

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: Tallahassee | next: The Sunset Tree

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