The Daily Californian Online

The Mountain Goats: ALL ETERNALS DECK

By Belinda Gu
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Category: Arts & Entertainment > Music > CD Reviews


Damn These Vampires," the first track from the Mountain Goats' latest album deftly states, "feast like pagans/never get enough/sleep like dead men/wake up like dead men." So it seems, the band can never die, sentenced to producing allusion-speckled raconteur musings forevermore.

Indeed, March 29th will mark the release of their 18th album and 13th studio LP, All Eternals Deck, which will be the band's first release with Merge Records. All Eternals Deck maintains frontman John Darnielle's long lineage of concept albums, exploring themes of perpetuation and incarnation in "newborn sons and daughters spat from distant stars."

The metamorphosis of the Mountain Goats' sound throughout the decades - from meticulous narrations and tinkling tunes of the '90s to autobiographical/historical/epistemological screeches of the '00s - is especially pronounced in All Eternals Deck, no doubt influenced by death metal guru and co-producer Erik Rutan. However, long-time fans would be pleased to find that "Beautiful Gas Mask" and "Outer Scorpion Squadron" are still marinated in the imprecise chord progressions and tuning arrangements that seasoned their signature lo-fi distortions of old hits such as "Love Love Love" and "The Black Ice Cream Song," treating those "old Goaters" to a familiar flavor.

The album's nimble lyrics and synergistic instrumentals establish Darnielle and company as honed, prolific musicians who consistently sidestep triteness and complacency to keep their sound engaging. "Lead a long life if you're lucky/hope it never ends," as Darnielle proclaims, encapsulates the Mountain Goats' enduring ability to produce songs that leave listeners satisfied.

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