John Darnielle Keeps His Songwriting Roll Going on the Mountain Goats' 'Getting into Knives'
The burst of creativity from John Darnielle, the word-swilling frontman and piercing singer-songwriter behind the North Carolina-based Mountain Goats, has not receded one bit in recent years. Quite the opposite: After successive full band triumphs with the noir-roots of 2017’s Goths and the wizardly wistfulness of 2018’s In League With Dragons, Darnielle is now entering the fourth decade of his recording career with a pair of 2020 albums.
If this year’s earlier Songs For Pierre Chuvin harkened back to Darnielle’s early All Hail West Texas-era days as a solo boombox savant, his latest album, Getting Into Knives, is a delightful representation of the band’s latter day off-kilter indie roots warmth.
Recorded at the legendary Sun Studios in a feverish week just before quarantine, the quartet (bassist, Peter Hughes, drummer Jon Wurster, multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas) never devolves into mere retro-Memphis cosplay, like so many artists taking a swing at recording in The House That Sam Phillips’ Built. Instead, songs like “Get Famous” gently swell with horns, while opening track “Corsican Mastiff Stride” swings to a light shuffle rhythm with a bass line that would make Marshall Grant proud.
Mostly, the Mountain Goats’ latest displays the group in peak narrative form, delivering moving storytelling from ever-unexpected sources. “Pez Dorado” is a surprisingly moving, lightly loping ode to goldfish: “The spawning tide never ends.” The album centerpiece “Picture of My Dress,” meanwhile, finds Darnielle turning a tweet about a woman working through a divorce by taking a roadtrip with their wedding dress into a profoundly moving mid-life crisis travelogue. The scene-setting is as poignant as ever, with the song’s narrator weeping their way through a crispy chicken sandwich at a Dallas Burger King as Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” blares on the overhead speakers. If anyone could make the words “I get extra mayonnaise, it’s a mess” sound profound, it’s Darnielle.
The concluding title track is another keeper, a darkly comforting narrative that winds its way through regret, revenge, and, well, a passionate new hobby. “I tried to keep things in perspective/As I hunted down the perpetrator,” Darnielle sings over a quiet acoustic and drum arrangement, “Loaded up my toolkit with every hateful instrument/Now here we are thirty years later.” On Getting Into Knives, Darnielle shows that the Mountain Goats’ toolkit is always expanding, and his tools are getting sharper all the same.
Source: Read Full Article