The Mountain Goats
GOTHS, 180g 2LP Black Vinyl
Save for perhaps lumberjacks, there is no scene more everlasting than goths. The candles and coffins, the bats and spiders, the milky-white legs under jet black jeans that fill up the corners of goth culture are all just the artifacts for its everlasting creed: death is real, and it waits for us all. The true goth compass points toward the final darkness and woe unto those who must lease their time here in the light, squeezing cantaloupe at the grocery store and forgetting to call the guy about the broken sump pump. Goths, the latest from the Mountain Goats, is about the journey between life in the dark and death in the light, and ultimately trying to find a home somewhere between.
That elusive, literary home for John Darnielle—the lead singer and songwriter of the Mountain Goats for 26 years—has been a theme in his writing lately. Whether on his 2015 album Beat the Champ or in his 2017 novel Universal Harvester, Darnielle writes about the larger, decades-long journeys that play out in the rural American diaspora. Though setting these stories in bloody wrestling rings in South Texas or spliced into unsettling VHS tapes at a local video store in Iowa, at the center of both is a question: Where can we go when our youth, our vocation, or our family has left us? The same question applies here to Goths, a question buried underneath its fables about a singer in a California goth band in the ’80s.
At this point in his career, Darnielle is in his own private league of songwriting. His verse is effortless, his detail impeccable, and the joy with which he animates these weary souls languishing in Long Beach rock clubs make every word just glow. Goths is Darnielle’s most evocative work since the occultist All Eternals Deck and even though it remains loosely conceptual like Beat the Champ, it’s all tethered to this palpable, too-casual melancholy, the kind that comes with telling a cautionary tale one too many times. -Pitchfork 8.0 Rating