The Mountain Goats - Getting Into Knives Music Album Reviews

The Mountain Goats - Getting Into Knives Music Album Reviews
Recorded in Memphis before lockdown, the Mountain Goats’ second album of 2020 is lush and loose, full of stories about personal fulfillment, in whatever form it takes.

The Mountain Goats used to be an acquired taste. Even by the standards of turn-of-the-century indie rock, they were too esoteric for most, the vocals too sharp, the emotions too raw. But that edge has dulled naturally over the years, as songwriter John Darnielle retired his old boombox for a full band. It was a surprise, then, when Darnielle made a return to his home-recording roots earlier this year with his quarantine album Songs for Pierre Chuvin. Yet where that record captured The Mountain Goats as they’ll always exist in the popular imagination—an unadorned songwriter baring his soul—the second Mountain Goats album of 2020, Getting Into Knives, documents them as they really are: a tasteful ensemble that plays with the kind of easy grace that can only come from years of seasoning on the road.
As they’ve dialed down their eccentricities, their sound has grown more approachable. Darnielle, a musician once indifferent to the notion of fidelity, has gradually become a master of it, and even his frayed vocals have been smoothed out. He’s still got a voice like Miracle Whip, with a tang that’s always going to turn some people off, but he’s learned how to sub it into just about any recipe. And over the last several years in particular, he’s relished the freedom that’s given him to branch out.

Getting Into Knives is the full-on Memphis record the group’s increasingly lavish albums have been foreshadowing for some time now. Recorded just weeks before March’s lockdown at Memphis’s Sam Phillips Recording, an old Elvis hangout that’s hosted Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, it’s the band’s loosest LP by some distance. Opener “Corsican Mastiff Stride” nods to the studio’s heritage with a rockabilly jaunt, full of brushed drums and shimmying guitars, while bluesy horns punch up “Get Famous.” Session players deftly color every track, most notably Hi Records organist Charles Hodges, so instrumental to Al Green’s heyday records, whose swooping Hammond organ tops “Tidal Wave” and “Habor” like pats of melting butter.

Unlike previous Mountain Goats albums about underground wrestlers, aging goths or fantasy worlds, Knives doesn’t have a high concept, but it’s loosely bound by Darnielle’s stories about the pursuit of personal fulfillment, whatever form it may take. On “Corsican Mastiff Stride,” it’s an adventure-seeker courting death at sea, comforted by the companionship of his loyal dog. On the rocker “Rat Queen,” it's the image of vermin scoring big in a fast-food dumpster. And on “Picture of My Dress,” a story spun from a tweet by poet Maggie Smith, it's a liberated bride basking in the open road. In typical Darnieleian detail, she pauses in a truck-stop Burger King bathroom to take notice of an Aerosmith song (“Mr. Steven Tyler is on the overhead speakers/He doesn’t want to miss a thing.”)

Even Getting Into Knives’ title track, while ostensibly a revenge story, is framed as an account of someone discovering a new hobby. “I sought wisdom from the sages,” Darnielle sings, “Consulted with master tacticians/Met up with some guys who wouldn’t tell me their last names/They specialized in non-conventional munitions.” As a songwriter, Darnielle’s key rule is never to judge, only to sympathize.

That title track caps offs a mellow, low-key final stretch that closes the record not with a bang but a contented sigh. Darnielle’s best songs stick like parables, leaving behind lasting images both poetic and mundane. Most of these songs don’t quite land like that; for all its craft, Getting Into Knives is too casual of a collection to sit alongside The Mountain Goats’ statement albums. But while these may not be Darnielle’s meatiest songs, the rich instrumentation turns them into one of his most welcoming records.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
The Mountain Goats - Getting Into Knives Music Album Reviews The Mountain Goats - Getting Into Knives Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, November 05, 2020 Rating: 5

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