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The Mountain Goats: The Sunset TreeThe Sunset Tree (2005)
Reviewer Rating: 4
Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)
I don’t know how to get into this review. John Darnielle is a wordsmith of a tremendous nature and I know that I cannot describe his music in words as eloquent. I will try my best to describe his new album without drooling all over myself. Yes, I am obsessed with the Mountain Goats.
I'm in the living room watching the Watergate hearings / While my stepfather yells at my mother / Launches a glass across the room straight at her head / And I dash upstairs to take cover / Lean in close to my little record player on the floor / So, this is what the volume knob's for / I listen to dance music, dance music.”This theme reappears again on “Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod.” Here Darnielle wakes his stepfather up with his music, and as he is receiving a beating, all he is thinking is that he hopes his stereo doesn’t get broken.
Another favorite of mine is “Lion’s Teeth,” a lurching, evil tune pushed along by the tom-filled beat and electric guitar. It's the most rocking song on the album and contains the scariest of the stories. I’m trying to piece together the story between the facts and the metaphors, but it seems it is about a young Darnielle going on the offensive against his sleeping stepfather, after which he realizes he is in way over his head and that “There is no good way to end this.” “Love Love Love” picks up the later part of the album with one of the cheerier numbers and a great melody.
After so many albums and an estimated 400 songs written about fictional characters, it is weird to be able to picture Darnielle himself, in a younger form, in these situations. I think this will be a dividing point among fans, but personally I am all for it and I think it gives the stories a greater impact. Musically, I don’t think this his most consistent album, with the second half dragging a bit. I also liked the more rocking tunes on We Shall All Be Healed and wish this one had a few more songs like those. This score is given in comparison to older Mountain Goats releases and not as a flat score, because while I give it only an 8, it will definitely find its way into my end of the year list.
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