The Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride

While there is no arguing that John Darnielle‘s voice can at times be a touch annoying to new listeners, it also manages it’s moments of brilliance to those who manage to stick around long enough to let it settle in. Backed by outstanding lyrics, remarkable string orchestration and excellent songwriting qualities many modern bands lack, Heretic Pride provides epic-storytelling that you would expect to find in your 300 level humanities class rather than an album at your local record store. But honestly that just adds to The Mountain Goats charm, in the same way that people find themselves attracted to their local librarian, despite her obvious flaws.

But since flaws are most often a result of misunderstanding based on the perceptions of the eye of the beholder, beauty can be overlooked, and wonderful albums can be shelved before given the proper chance to grow on the listener. It’s because of this I offer the following disclaimer: Heretic Pride will grow on you.

Ranging from calm, singer-songwriter cuts to pissed off angst driven rants, The Mountain Goats bring diversity to the table. They at one point change their sound so drastically with “New Zion” that one would swear they were sampling the greatest hits of Elvis Costello rather than cuts from Heretic Pride.

Short of what I would label a few “filler” songs (“Autoclave”and “Lovecraft in Brooklyn”) which detract and ultimately sway a bit TOO far off the course of this album’s general feel, overall Heretic Pride is a fairly well-rounded album. Heavily focused on detailing the surroundings and emotions experienced by the album’s unnamed narrator, we collect a first person view of the epic-adventure through together by the band. Ranging in subject matter from confusion to reflection to the simple art of living in the moment, deep lyrics guide us down paths we’ve all experienced before.

Darnielle finds complicated ways to state simple thoughts, idealizing them, while at the same time forming them into poetic masterpieces. For example, while describing his loss of composure, Darnielle explains, “through the worn radio static I couldn’t hear my stage directions,” rather than simply saying, “Yeah, I got flustered.” Such artistic word choices placed over perfectly patterned strings and piano where guitar and bass would commonly be found expand on The Mountain Goats unique contribution to the current indie scene.

This is a beautiful album full of beautiful visions and perceptions of a less than beautiful world. Look for The Mountain Goats’ Heretic Pride on 4AD, to appear in stores February 19th, 2008.

The Moutain Goats’ Website
The Montain Goats’ Myspace
4AD Website


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