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The Mountain Goats – Goths Album Review

The Mountain Goats’ new album is full of references and mentions from Goth music. It’s hardly a case of inside baseball, though. Instead, the references add an interesting layer to the album, and can definitely send you off searching through the bins of your local store for some Sisters of Mercy albums or playing some early-80s Siouxsie and the Banshees or scrolling through the Gene Loves Jezebel Wikipedia page (something John Darnielle does on album closer “Abandoned Flesh”). Digging back through some of these songs you might find all that expected Goth darkness is flecked with faint light, a kind of searching zeal and ferocity under the surface that makes them kindred spirits with John Darnielle and the Mountain Goats. Goths doesn’t just focus on the genre; it interacts with it. Here are few songs that might echo out as you listen to the band’s excellent new record.

In the announcement for the record, the big shift for Goths was that John Darnielle and company were going to make the record without guitars. While on the surface this may surprise some, considering how integral the guitar has been to the band’s records to now, this actually shouldn’t be all that shocking. For one, it’s exactly the kind of limit a guy might impose if, say, he first played songs on a cheap acoustic guitar and recorded them into a boombox. Secondly, Darnielle has been playing keys, with increasing frequency, on the Mountain Goats’ records for over a decade. But though he’s left the guitar behind on this album, Darnielle has hardly abandoned the spirit. Since moving to studio recording, the Mountain Goats have expanded and experimented with different sounds — the aching quiet of Get Lonely, for example, or the more intricate compositions of Beat the Champ — but even then there were limitations. It was just that the constraints were thematic ones. An album about the doomed Alpha couple, the autobiographical album, the album where the songs…

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