The Mountain Goats
As his fans understand, Mountain Goats capo John Darnielle is a devoted, highly literate student of pop culture in all of its forms, a thinker who thrives on analyzing patterns and systems. Most of the time his schematic side is balanced with his gift for storytelling and his keen eye for detail. As the taxing days of 2020 came to an end he began a very deliberate practice while indulging in a feast of thrillers from specific regions and eras of the last few decades. When a particular phrase would catch his fancy, he’d pause the movie, write a song based on the phrase, record it, and go back to the film.
Darnielle noticed patterns in his songs, which portrayed a much blunter if not more violent world than the ones that he usually writes about. Beneath the stories were a succession of humans with a lust for revenge. As Darnielle says, “It’s never a zero-sum game. And yet the idea is so delicious, you can’t get enough of it. It’s more of a grail—because you can’t have it, it starts to seem really appealing.” The music his band created for its newest album Bleed Out delivers an appropriately stripped-down, often bruising attack.
The group enlisted Bully’s Alicia Bognanno to produce the record, and she gave it an appropriate injection of raw energy and grit. As Pitchfork has written, “Bleed Out is Darnielle’s most immediate and focused full-band album in years, with the stylistic flourishes of latter-day Mountain Goats jettisoned in favor of a visceral guitar-rock directness that hits like a fist to the face.”