The Mountain Goats

The Sunset Tree (4AD)

Listening to the Mountain Goats' fantastically touching new album feels like digging through leader John Darnielle's childhood cedar chest, but what you'll find, set against emotionally heavy piano and vengeful violin, can be hard to digest. "Dance Music" pairs giddy acoustic riffs with chilling lyrics ("I dash upstairs for cover/Leaning close to my little record player on the floor/So this is what the volume knob is for"), while "This Year" forages through similarly rough teenage memories with the help of firm handclaps, hopeful piano and guitar interaction, and a strong survivor's mentality: "I am going to make it/Through this year/If it kills me." Don't bother dissecting this honest, poignant, and perfectly executed record just listen.

 
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