hello folks! we’re continuing our drive through the Mountain Goats discography this week by checking oit 2019’s Goths!

i think Rain in Soho is my favorite track on the record, and putting it first is kind of an odd decision to me. the track has such a different and distinct vibe to the rest of the record, that placing it first in the lineup does a great job at setting the thematic tone but musically sets up something that isnt followed up on. my first few listens thought the inclusion of the Batcave was intended to bring a moment of levity to this, a kind of tongue-in-cheek air to the drama. i did look into it and find out that the Batcave was a club John Darnielle had heard about and became a kind of mythical place, the kind described in the bridge here, which makes a ton of sense, but it is still kinda funny singing about the Batcave on a track with this dark energy. killer slow build in energy here. Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back To Leeds tells the story of the frontman of a big goth band moving back to his hometown. the contrast in tone here is strong everytime, which isnt helped by the fact that this is one of the tracks that’s used in the I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats podcast, so i get a bit turned around. this one’s nice though, and it definitely does lay the groundwork for the rest of the record – a bright, wistful kind of reminiscence, thats a little swingy and a little loungey, even if this one focuses more on the tone and less on the swingy or loungey stuff. i dig the hook on The Grey King and the Silver Flame Attunement, the “im hardcore, but not that hardcore”, but the rest of the track does a bit less for me. We Do It Different on the West Coast is also a really good song. its a nice musing on the regionality of music scenes, and i really like it. great bass on here too. Unicorn Tolerance grew on me quite a bit. the chorus is excellent, for sure, but i wasnt fully sold on the processing and mix on the verses for a few listens. it won me over – the self-harmonizing of Darnielle on different vocal tracks that shift to be a bit more in sync as it approaches the chorus is a fun effect. Stench of the Undead pictures a specific kind of burnt out and cruising, a wreck in motion. another very excellent chorus. Wear Black’s real good too – a kind of musing on the motivations of the fashion component of the goth scene. Paid In Cocaine is the song that leans the heaviest into the aspect of memory, given that its framed by someone looking at relics of their past. really neat saxophone on this song. Rage of Travers was another song that whiplashed me back to the podcast – wild how having that be the intro to these songs affects my perception of them so much. an interesting track about feeling out of place, almost of aging out. Shelved is a different perspective on a similar experience, of refusing to sell out and not compromising the artistic vision, even if it ends your career. For the Portuguese Goth Metal Bands is about the process, of honing a craft, even if recognition is out of reach. i like the closer, Abandoned Flesh, a lot. this feels like closure on the work explained in the previous track, that this is the focus of the album, the lost and forgotten bands. and again with those killer saxes! great sendoff.

faves – Rain in Soho, We Do It Different on the West Coast, Unicorn Tolerance, Paid In Cocaine, Shelved
dislikes –

man i gotta say, this record has some killer choruses. John Darnielle can absolutely kill a chorus.

that being said, i had a mixed experience with the record overall – i feel like some of these tracks had an incomplete chance at a first impression, and many of the others were influenced by the comments i made above about the sequencing. because to be honest, i feel like the musical tone for most of the record was fitting for the lyrical angle – this is not really a record about being goth, its a record about remembering the goths, memorializing the goths, carrying the torch for the goths, and the kind of hazy, dim recollection of tracks like Rage of Travers is great for that. i think i just enjoyed the mood on Rain In Soho and to a degree tracks like Unicorn tolerance that the material between them didnt really land to the same degree.

Goths – 7/10

next week is the subject of the second season of the I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats – it’s 2019’s In League With Dragons

support the band by checking this album out on Bandcamp!

the beginning: Zopilote Machine | previous: Beat the Champ| next: In League With Dragons

all my reviews for The Mountain Goats