hello folks! this week, we’re looking at the Mountain Goats’ 11th record Heretic Pride, released in 2008

every song on this record is a reference to a verse of the Bible – my biblical study is very far in my past so again thanks to the annotated goats site for compiling the sometimes very dense references here – i definitely recommend having that tab open for the specific verse references, at least.

1 Samuel 15:23 seems to be a very nice song, largely about providing help and respite where able. the verse in question does say divination is on the level of rebellion, and the use of crystal healing and self-help tapes may seem to suggest the assistance here is ineffective or the narrator is a scam (which a musical reading seems to kind of support), but i think it can go either way. very interesting opening track. Psalms 40:2 is definitely my favorite track here – a lot to love musically here, with the tense energy and those punchy drums, and i love the delivery of the lyrics in the chorus especially. Genesis 3:23 is about revisiting painful places – the annotated goats site pulls from an interview where Darnielle and the interviewer talk about sites of abuse or pain and their relationship to the verse, being about Eden, which is a thought i found very interesting. extremely pleasant song, for a track carrying a lot of very heavy feelings. Philippians 3:20-21 is about someone’s death, and from the bits the narrator provides, it was someone who struggled a lot in their life, being some kind of outcast and struggling mentally. a very interesting song, expressing some extremely difficult thoughts about death, the afterlife, and how people’s expectations of the afterlife can effect our understanding of life. Hebrews 11:40 is about a narrator buckling fate – an interesting narrative, contrasted against the verse from Hebrews about being made incomplete and wanting on purpose, or being made to wait. neat song. Genesis 30:3 feels like it riffs a lot on the type of vibe that Love, Love, Love does, if not a bit more narrowly. Romans 10:9 is a solid track. musically it’s bright, it’s got a very pleasant sound to it, but it describes someone in a state of suffering, awaiting a promise they feel is coming. the chorus here is the verse, which is an interesting decision. one of the first things that struck me about 1 John 4:16 is the fact that the beast that was described as escaping in the prior track is brought back on in this one (though i think the reading i lean toward is it’s more internal struggle than a literal beast). definitely pulls a lot from the prior track thematically, in that the narrator is very desperately clinging to hope, and to memory, here. really nice piano on this track. Matthew 25:21 is extremely sad. Philippians 3:20-21 is about processing a death afterwards, about dealing with the implications and the feelings it leaves you with, but this one is very much about the preparation, the experiencing it and watching it happen part. Deuteronomy 2:10 is about creatures that go extinct – the middle verse being about the dodo is a tad funny, but the song is quite effective as portraying the tragedy of the ends of things. Isaiah 45:23 is about a body failing extremely slowly, and the perspective someone experiencing that might feel. pretty solid track – i really like the soft guitar on this song. our closer here references both a whole chapter, and contains a bit extra: Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace. the annotations suggest this is someone who does horrible things to other humans, but contrasted against the piano and the somber tone make this a very reflective way to bring the record to a close.

faves – Psalms 40:2
dislikes –

musically, i think i was never going to super connect with this one. a lot of the songs are somber, soft, and quiet – extremely reflective. the performances are great – if you’ve liked the quieter, piano-driven tracks, there will be a lot for you on this record. it is a very very cohesive sound, but it’s not my fave Goats sound, to be honest.

lyrically and thematically though, it’s a lot to think about. obviously Biblical references surface a lot of struggles with faith and religion, and the album covers both of those in addition to the afterlife and the sense of the self in relation to the idea of a creator. i think the verse titles to an interesting thing, in that titles always contextualize and guide interpretation but each of these is set in parallel with a work that comes with tons of interpretation already. Matthew 25:21 is about watching someone die of cancer – the verse is the “well done my good and faithful servant” one, it’s about celebration that faith will bring reward, in the end. i mentioned above the way that the house the narrator breaks into, that they used to live in, in Genesis 3:23 is paralleled with Eden – it makes me consider the ways that places in the past can be built up, mythically, but truly can’t ever be returned to, for better and for worse, and consider what Darnielle’s feelings about Eden might be. is the implication that Eden was not a good place, and that leaving it was ultimately better? an interesting thought process, for sure.

The Life of the World to Come – 6/10

the next record is gonna be All Eternals Deck, from 2011.

once again, thanks the Annotated Mountain Goats site

support the band by checking this album out on Bandcamp!

the beginning: Zopilote Machine | previous: Heretic Pride | next: All Eternals Deck

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