The Mountain Goats, 'All Eternals Deck' (Merge)

All Eternals Deck
Critical Mass
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Label: Merge

by Marc Hogan

On the Mountain Goats' 18th album, frontman John Darnielle radiates an unfamiliar feeling: comfort. He enlists death-metal dude Erik Rutan as an unlikely producer (on four songs), but if All Eternals Deck rarely stumbles, it rarely surprises, either. As usual, the North Carolina trio'slatest is musically contemplative (mostly acoustic guitar or piano, bass, drums, maybe strings) and lyrically bountiful (camera-ready metaphors, idiosyncratic settings, characters with warts). Darnielle's reedy whisper -- or, less often now, shout -- confides but also encourages: "We hold hands and we jump?/ And as we fall, we sing." For Darnielle, that's living.

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