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March 16, 2004

{     The Mountain Goats We Shall all be Healed     }    

The words “upbeat gloomy folk-pop” may seem like a contradiction wrapped in an inconsistency, yet it’s almost impossible to describe the Mountain Goats without using those exact words. Thematically, there’s no denying a sense of sulky darkness in even their most revved up tunes, (sulky darkness being the stock and trade of most 4ad releases) but it’s the Mountain Goats’ delivery of those themes that makes you listen up and go “whuthafuck?” It’s plaintive yet inspirational at the same time, and rarely does something this dour… soar. But soar is what they do- thanks to a back-pocket full of catchy melodies, singer John Darnielle’s reedy vocals and a playful earnestness that never fades. Their newest album We Shall all be Healed is a toe-tapping, feel-bad-then-feel-good-again excursion: each song bears it’s own moments of weight and levity and has it’s own story to tell. There is an amazing amount of characterization going on in each track; moments of goofy self-revelation, rambling lists of thoughts, memories and actions, and more direct emotional expressions that come across musically as well as lyrically. Darnielle even rocks a little pseudo-cultural anthropology by cooking up an accompanying website that lets you wade into the album hip-deep. The website may or may not give you a more profound perspective on the songs of We Shall all be Healed, but it certainly eschews the usual run-of-the-mill album-web-content and is definitely worth seeing. As with the album- if you don’t come away converted you’ll certainly come away affected. There’s really no comparing the Mountain Goats’ sound, but when forced to make a long-winded, barely accurate and completely nonsensical association to things you might have heard, I’ve come up with this- Imagine early REM (before they were “alternative”, and were just called “college rock”) add a dash of Midnight Oil’s punchy delivery, a tablespoon of energy from the Violent Femmes, and top it off with a hint of The Folksmen performing their epic dirge The Skeletons of Quinto Mayo. Flour lightly in earnestness and season with plenty of real human tears before baking at 350 degrees of Modern Folk. Garnish with frothy dollops of near-Biblical imagery and a side dish of catchy-as-hell. Your guests will be delighted.

     » To visit the Mountain Goats at 4ad
     » To visit the We Shall all be Healed web experience

     » Buy it...


you are sincerely the king of description, an absolute ace at stringing together adjectives for sounds and sights that make me grasp, with slack expression and frozen fingers, for words. you have such a gift! and thankfully it's not wasted on anything, either, as i'm always at least in agreement, if not totally enlightened, by all things you choose to review.
sarah a.
oh and p.s.---john darnielle lives in durham. everyone lives in nc. everyone.

Posted by: sarah at March 16, 2004 2:47 AM

Everyone except me, so NC is only 99% cool. You were almost 100% 6 months ago, but I changed my mind. Sorry.

Posted by: Shane at March 16, 2004 6:15 PM

Posted by: paul at April 12, 2004 7:39 AM

hi. Im frm malaysia. May I know where can I get those Tees frm Graniph. Somewhere in my country.Plz..

Posted by: Tiffany at November 23, 2009 6:00 AM
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