The Sunset Tree:The Mountain Goats
Artist: The Mountain Goats
Date Released: April 26, 2005
Produced By: John Vanderslice
- You Or Your Memory
- Broom People
- This Year
- Dance Music
- Dinu Lipatti's Bones
- Up The Wolves
- Lion's Teeth
- Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod
- Song For Dennis Brown
- Love Love Love
- Pale Green Things
When I first heard about The Mountain Goats they were pure novelty. John started the band by recording himself on a shitty boombox and self-distributing tapes, and the first song I heard of theirs "The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton" off of All Hail West Texas, but His last two albums show such depth musically and lyrically that they can't be ignored.
His music has an eerie, disturbing quality to it, one which he seems to have perfected on his previous disc, We Shall All Be Healed. This disc lacks the cohesive eeriness that makes WSABH a perfect disc to listen to as dawn rises over your dirty apartment building after an evening of drinking and smoking and not bothering to sleep. Musically, the disc seems more experimental, and most of the tracks succed on their own, but I get only a sense of loose affiliation from the album as a whole. Strangely my favorite song on the album "This Year" sounds like a Bizzarro universe David Gray, whose music I enjoy, but sounds nothing like the Mountain Goats. With a chorus of, "I'm going to make it through this year if it kills me," it summarizes the strange morbid optimism he has. For Darnielle, things are awful, but life goes on.
"Dilaudid" is perhaps the greatest departure from previous work, even if it is simplistic, consisting of a cello loop and John's desperate lilting voice, seeming just about to break. "Dance Music" has a bouncy latin rhythm, beautiful melody, and disturbing lyrics about abuse, disease and death.
The album is surreal, mixing stories about growing up broken with an drunk and awful stepdad, strange dark myth, and the power of music to help us get through. In "Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod" John desperately states his stereo is the "one thing that I couldn't live without," and I am there with him, in my old teenage bedroom, hiding, waiting to be free, and until then I'm deep in the dream.
While this isn't the best Mountain Goats album (still partial to We Shall All Be Healed), it really is damned good. Another one produced by John Vanderslice, and another auto-biographical album, this is about John Darnielle's abusive step-father and his impact on John Darnielle's life. My favorite track is "Dance Music", but pretty much every track is outstanding. And the cover photograph is beautiful. That's perhaps the best thing about the Mountain Goats signing to 4AD -- 4AD know how to do album packaging. For reals. - Rev. Syung Myung Me