US - North Carolina - Full Moon 162 - 12/02/09
The Mountain Goats
The Life Of The World To Come
4AD / Playground
So, how do you approach an album with song titles from verses in the Bible? Well, you just go ahead and listen to it. A bit on the skeptic side perhaps, but you gotta give it a shot.
I have to admit that it took me some time to sort of disconnect the songs from the actual biblical verses they are named after. I rest with the official presentation: "it's less a profession of religious faith than an immersion in Biblical poetry and imagery. The songs take their cue from verses that have either informed or inspired them". Oh, by the way, The Mountain Goats has released 16 albums before this, since 1991. Let's just say they've been busy. The plural form is misleading. The Goats is actually John Darnielle's ongoing project, with different players for each album.
The problem for a strong lyricist such as Darnielle is that the music's got to support the words in a just as interesting way. Some of these songs brings Eels' songs of sickness and death, but these songs don't strike me as hard. And this, I might add, is the difficulty in reviewing records. The personal matter that the writer is struggling with is judged by someone else. That said, I'm still not any closer to the songs or the people in them.
They tend to not be easy to separate from each other and the arrangements could have a lot more to get along with. It might be intentional (just as the biblical theme), but even so-called concept albums are more diverse than this collection of songs.
The one's that do stick out ("Genesis 3:23", "Hebrews 11:14", "Romans 10:9") are good songs and will be able to stand solidly alone. As a whole, the album is a challenge. Unfortunately not in a good way.
Copyright © 2009 Anders Svendsen