Album Review: The Mountain Goats come back to the Doug Fir

by Guia Nocon on May 27, 2010

Editor’s Note: Are you moved by The Mountain Goats?  Leave a comment below and you may win a pair of tickets see the North Carolinian trio on Sunday evening.

John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, and John Wurster, better known as The Mountain Goats, come back to the Dour Fir Lounge this Sunday, May 30th making these last two weeks of rain, well, make sense.  Darnielle, known for his excellently depressing lyrics, makes crowds want to melt and weep in ecstatic agony more than stomp in complete abandon, though, he’s known to be able to do both equally well.

Their most recent album, The Life of the World to Come, more Get Lonely than We Shall All Be Healed, will elicit more tears than laughter, but, isn’t that what we all come for?  A very minimalistic album (mostly guitar, drums, piano, some strings) dedicated to exploring Biblical stories, in a way exploring stories in and of themselves, will make the crowd seem like they’re praying with their ears.

On the first track of Life of the World…, “1 Samuel 15:23,” Darnielle quietly sings, “I became a crystal healer and my ministry was to the sick.  Creeping vines would send out runners and seek me in their numbers… and as word spread of my powers they would seek me far and wide.  All sad faces at my window, I would welcome them inside.”

This is exactly what Darnielle has become to his fans and why so many of us keep coming back for more.  He’s mastered the art of storytelling, he’s reiterating the oldest stories we know (those of the Bible), and in a way, he’s telling us our own stories.  His fans know him for the shaman that he is, yet Darnielle goes out of his way to show that he’s just like everyone else making him simultaneously worthy of awe while still being easily accessible.

You might expect huge theatrics, you might not.  After all, The Mountain Goats have been known to do metal versions of their quietest songs (i.e. the one quoted above).  The Mountain Goats have built their reputation on some very honest, understated observations on heavy subjects such as meth addictions, abusive relationships, and loneliness.  What you can expect is some poetry that will move through the room like water, infiltrating every crack with such unassuming stealth that it’ll feel like silence.  Forget church this Sunday, or rest, The Mountain Goats will turn the Doug Fir into a quietly roaring cathedral.

The Mountain Goats move onto the Sasquatch Music Festival in George, WA on Monday, May 31st to play the closing day at the Gorge Amphitheater.