Dork Radio
Now playing:
In the mag...
Featuring The 1975, Billie Eilish, Idles, The Japanese House and more.
Order a copy
December 2018 / January 2019
Review

The Mountain Goats - Goths

An album that pushes indulgence to the limit.
The Mountain Goats - Goths
Published: 12:32 pm, May 18, 2017
An album that pushes indulgence to the limit.

Label: Merge Records
Released: 19th May 2017
Rating: ★★★

John Darnielle remains an American institution, even though The Mountain Goats will forever be held with cautious eyes this side of the Atlantic; a cult band all your favourite bands adore, yet somewhat impenetrable and imposing for casual listeners. ‘Goths’ will do little to change that perception, even if it possesses some whip-smart takes on issues of identity, wrapped up in the story of goth music (yes, really).

The first Mountain Goats album to be recorded sans guitars, there’s a speakeasy jazz vibe to cuts like ‘The Grey King and the Silver Flame Attunement’ and ‘We Do It Different On The West Coast’ that work well with Darnielle’s semi-spoken vocals, even if they feel over-embellished. Combined with a near one-hour runtime, it’s an album that pushes indulgence to the limit.

Yet for all this, Darnielle’s lyricism dazzles throughout. Indeed, ‘Goths’ probably features more words than your average novella, and every syllable serves a considered purpose. From the bright-light pop of ‘Unicorn Tolerance’ to the name-dropping irreverence of ‘Abandoned Flesh’, Darnielle can tell a story packed with humour and poignancy. The latter, which closes the album, charts the career of longstanding cult British band (now bands) Gene Loves Jezebel and is reason enough to stick with ‘Goths’, such is the brilliance of the songwriting.

There’s even enough time for a knowing joke. “I wanna play my guitar,” Darnielle blasts on the rock-opera styled ‘Shelved’, while debating the merits of opening for Trent Reznor. It’s winning stuff from a peerless storyteller who can conjure some astonishingly strong images.

After the critical acclaim afforded 2015’s wrestling-obsessed ‘Beat The Champ’, ‘Goths’ is ultimately a clever move, stepping away from the indie-folk but still leaving Darnielle’s lyrics front and centre. It might be testing at points, but it still possesses many captivating moments. Rob Mair

Give all this a try

Hype List 2019: Billie Eilish
Feature

Hype List 2019: Billie Eilish

Pop prodigy Billie Eilish isn’t heading for stardom, she’s already there. 
The Japanese House: "I've never felt so healthy about releasing music and touring"
Feature

The Japanese House: "I've never felt so healthy about releasing music and touring"

In 2019, we're finally getting The Japanese House's debut album.
Idles: "We're the antithesis of all the bollocks that runs rife in this fucking industry"
Feature

Idles: "We're the antithesis of all the bollocks that runs rife in this fucking industry"

2018 has been a landmark year for Idles. Where do they go from here?
Bastille: "We want Other People's Heartache to become a project in its own right"
Feature

Bastille: "We want Other People's Heartache to become a project in its own right"

The fourth instalment of the band's signature mixtape series has landed. We caught up with Dan Smith to find out what's going on with Bastille.
Like this? Subscribe to Dork and get every issue delivered direct to your door anywhere on the planet.
CONTACT PRIVACY ADVERTISE

© 2018 The Bunker Publishing