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September 4, 2006 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

The Mountain Goats – Get Lonely

After thirteen years and hundreds of detailed narrative songs recorded often on a boombox, John Darnielle finally got autobiographical

on his last two albums. The response to the first was overwhelming and humbling. So when trying to write another he hesitated, not wanting to go back to writing something that would not connect to the same degree. While he hasn’t chosen to open up again specifically, Darnielle has succeeded in creating a meditation on loss and loneliness that wields the same emotional heft as the discussion of his abusive father in The Sunset Tree or the portrayal of his drugged and drunk twenty-something years on We Shall All Be Healed.

The most richly produced Mountain Goats record thus far, but at the same time the most subdued, here the usual heartwrenching pathos isn’t tempered by black humour and the joyous triumph of a thrashing acoustic guitar that made songs like ‘No Children’ and ‘Broom People’ easy medicine. Darnielle’s voice barely rises over a spoken whisper, and there are no lungstraining nasal outbursts, just an album length sigh.

Inspired by the vacant landscapes he faced on tour and yearning for his wife, the album mines the feeling of losing the person most important to you, describing the post-trauma. But these are not the bitter break-up songs perfected by the Goats in the

past. Wandering around the house in a caffeinated daze in ‘Woke Up New’, or stumbling through an empty night in ‘Moon over Goldsboro’, the central figure of Get Lonely attempts to reconcile a past he can’t change (“what are the years we gave each other, ever gonna to be worth?”). There’s little guilt here, blame laid or portraits of dysfunction painted, just lonesome vignettes of sadness. The luxuriant instrumentation may hide the depth of the melancholy at first, but repeated listening (as all Mountain Goats records require) offers peace to those grieving love lost.


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