The Mountain Goats John Darnielle is one of the most imaginative lyricists of his generation. Its a mark of his extraordinary fertility that, of the 400-plus songs that Darnielle has recorded, only a handful directly concern his own experience. But his album for 4AD, 'We Shall All Be Healed', marked a change in approach by revisiting and reconstructing a dark period in his early life; a time of seedy apartments, makeshift friendships, cheap substances and unscheduled trips to hospital. This new record, 'The Sunset Tree', goes further still. Recorded with producer John Vanderslice in northern California towards the end of 2004, 'The Sunset Tree' is a collection of songs about the house that Darnielle grew up in and the people who lived there - an ensemble cast which includes Darnielle himself, an ex-girlfriend, his mother, stepfather and sister, old friends and old enemies. Although it is a dark record, it is far from a bleak one. Crucially, Darnielle garlands his darkest experiences with some of his sunniest melodies: 'Dance Music' is as jaunty as it is brief, skipping along hand in hand with a playful piano part that offers an impossible counterpoint to the unblinking honesty of the lyrics; 'This Year' borders on the anthemic, its swaying confidence in telling contrast to the backhanded bravura of the refrain "i'm going to make it through this year, if it kills me"; and 'Lion's Teeth' captures an ancient split-second of domestic violence in a nervy, staccato march which renders everything that happens newly urgent and almost unbearably vivid.



You Or Your Memory

Broom People

This Year


Dance Music

Dinu Lipatti's Bones

Up The Wolves

Lion's Teeth

Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod


Song For Dennis Brown

Love Love Love

Pale Green Things


Label: 4AD