The Mountain Goats 'Goths'
Originality81
Lyrical Content84
Longevity75
Overall Impact77
Reader Rating0 Votes0
79
Featuring a cross-section of intersectional persons at different points in life, 'Goths' looks beyond misunderstood, suburban "alt" kids to empathize with those who embody, have embodied, and will continue to embody a goth outlook

On their sixteenth studio album, The Mountain Goats ditch the guitars for keys and woodwind arrangements as vocalist John Darnielle‘s latest foray into idiosyncratic subject matter surpasses all expectations. While 2015’s ‘Beat the Champ’ was for all intents and purposes a concept album about semi-professional wrestling, bassist Peter Hughes describes ‘Goths‘ as approaching “an identity most often associated with youth from a perspective that is inescapably adult.” Carried primarily by Darnielle‘s tender, trademark humor and unparalleled storytelling, ‘Goths’ adds nuance — rather than panders — to an identity. 

Beyond the a-little-too-on-the-nose-yet-amusing ‘Wear Black,’ the tracks on ‘Goths’ eschew mainstream depictions of goth for subtlety. Aware of the seemingly-all-too-serious-and-repelling  goth aesthetic on ‘The Grey King and the Silver Flame Attunement’, Darnielle confesses,”I’m hardcore / But I’m not that hardcore“. As if emphasizing the pigeon-holing expectations surrounding this identity, Darnielle softly relates, “Nobody wants to hear the twelve-bar blues / From a guy in platform shoes” on ‘Rage of Travers’. During ‘Shelved’, a propulsive track that moves from blackened blues rock to soaring new wave, Darnielle refuses to tour with Trent Reznor or make “that kind of music” while proudly displaying pastel colours. At its core, ‘Goths’ deals with isolation and feeling misunderstood, generally thought to be relegated to an angst-ridden teenage “phase,” through a wizened lens. 

Musically, ‘Goths’ further subverts the cyber punk stereotype establishes during the late ’90s. Opening track ‘Rain in Soho’ erupts with a supporting chorus that establishes a melodramatic tone for the record, but The Mountain Goats touches more often upon smooth jazz — especially on closer ‘Abandoned Flesh’ — fit for a hazy bar than upon industrial electro-noise. Lead single ‘Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back to Leeds’ is a relatively sunny tune built upon a boppy bassline and well-timed woodwinds. ‘Stench of the Unburied’ assumes a softer tone as its bridge features spacey, retro-futuristic keys while the aforementioned ‘Wear Black’ plays like a quasi-religious experience with its Broadway musical refrain. 

Upon first glance, one might roll their eyes at this record’s bald title, but everything about ‘Goths’ suggests The Mountains Goats‘ sincerity. Beyond the musical diversity born from personal experience rather than outside assumption, Leela Corman‘s album artwork solidifies the album’s worth, and hints at its target audience. Featuring a cross-section of intersectional persons at different points in life, ‘Goths’ looks beyond misunderstood, suburban “alt” kids to empathize with those who embody, have embodied, and will continue to embody a goth outlook. 

The Mountain Goats are currently touring in support of ‘Goths’: 

Apr 01 Cary, NC — Bond Brothers Beer Company
Apr 06 Perth, AU — Badlands
Apr 07 Adelaide, AU — Fowler’s
Apr 08 Adelaide, AU — The Ed Castle SOLD OUT
Apr 09 Marrickville, AU — The Factory Theatre
Apr 11 Melbourne, AU — The Toff SOLD OUT
Apr 12 Richmond, AU — Corner Hotel SOLD OUT
Apr 13 Byron Bay, AU — Bluesfest
Apr 14 Byron Bay, AU — Bluesfest
May 22 Atlanta, GA — Terminal West
May 23 Nashville, TN — Cannery Ballroom
May 25 Birmingham, AL — Saturn
May 26 New Orleans, LA — The Republic
May 27 Houston, TX — White Oak Music Hall
May 28 Dallas, TX — Trees
May 31 Los Angeles, CA — Mayan Theater
Jun 01 San Francisco, CA — The Fillmore
Jun 02 San Francisco, CA — The Fillmore
Jun 04 Portland, OR — Crystal Ballroom
Jun 05 Seattle, WA — The Showbox
Jun 23 New York, NY — Beacon Theatre ^
Jun 24 New York, NY — Beacon Theatre ^
Jun 26 New Haven, CT — College Street Music Hall ^
Jun 27 Boston, MA — Blue Hills Bank Pavilion ^
Jun 28 Providence, RI — Columbus Theatre
Jun 30 Columbia, MD — Merriweather Post Pavilion ^
Jul 01 Cincinnati, OH — PNC Pavilion at Riverband Music ^
Jul 02 Huber Heights, OH — Rose Music Center ^
Jul 05 Papillion, NE — Sumtur Amphitheater ^
Jul 06 Des Moines, IA — Wooley’s
Jul 07 Saint Paul, MN — The Palace Theatre ^
Jul 08 Madison, WI — Majestic Theatre
Jul 09 Bloomington, IL — Castle Theatre
Jul 11 Sioux Falls, SD — The Washington Pavilion ^
Jul 12 Saint Louis, MO — Peabody Opera House ^
Jul 13 Oklahoma City, OK — ACM@UCO Performance Lab
Jul 14 Austin, TX — ACL Live at the Moody Theater ^
Oct 05 Leeds, UK — Brudenell Social Club
Oct 06 Leeds, UK — Brudenell Social Club
Oct 08 Dublin, Ireland — The Button Factory
Oct 09 Glasgow, UK — Glasgow Art School
Oct 11 London, UK — O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Oct 12 Brighton, UK — The Haunt
Oct 13 Utrecht, Netherlands — De Helling
Oct 15 Copenhagen West, Denmark — Pumpehuset
Oct 16 Stockholm, Sweden — Debaser Strand
Oct 17 Oslo, Norway — John Dee

^ – w/ Jason Isbell

‘Goths’ is out now via Merge Records.

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