The Mountain Goats - Bleed Out Music Album Reviews

The Mountain Goats - Bleed Out Music Album Reviews
John Darnielle’s band returns to visceral guitar-rock directness for a collection of songs that embrace and humanize the familiar tropes of action cinema.

As anyone who’s seen The Raid will tell you, there’s purity in the brutal simplicity of action movies. There are good guys and bad guys; they try to shoot and/or beat the shit out of each other; ultimately, one side prevails. That black-and-white milieu might seem an odd fit for the pen of the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle, whose writing tends to leave room for pesky complications like subtlety, nuance, and omnidirectional empathy. But on Bleed Out, his new collection of songs inspired by a pandemic spent devouring classic action films, Darnielle both humanizes and embraces the familiar tropes of action cinema. He indulges in the escapist fantasy that action movies offer, while taking the real cost of living like one of their heroes all too seriously.

Each song on Bleed Out unfolds like an action epic in miniature, and although the scenarios depicted run the gamut from chase sequences to hostage situations, the main throughline is a single-minded pursuit of exacting vengeance from one’s foes. “I'm doing this for revenge,” Darnielle brays in his trademark yawp on the chorus of opening track “Training Montage,” succinctly capturing the motivation that drives the death-defying stunts of protagonists like Keanu Reeves’ John Wick and Charles Bronson’s Paul Kersey. It feels as though half of the lyrics come in the form of threats of grievous bodily harm: "I'm going to leave a mark on you"; "I'm going to make you suffer”; "I'm coming to swat you down like flies."

Darnielle has written song cycles about dysfunctional married couples, Dungeons & Dragons, and the plight of the aging California goth. More than anything else in their catalog, Bleed Out resembles the Mountain Goats’ 2015 pro-wrestling album Beat the Champ. Like wrestling, action movies are a form of violent escapism that often tell elemental stories of good versus evil. But where Beat the Champ delved into the personal lives and tribulations of the men and women who dedicate their lives to wrestling, Bleed Out never really breaks kayfabe. It’s not about actors playing action movie protagonists; it’s about honest-to-god vigilantes in desperate life-or-death situations, cliches dragged from make-believe to cold, hard reality by the specificity of Darnielle’s songwriting.

Those urgent stakes are reflected in the album’s sound. Since the early days of John Darnielle yelling into an old Panasonic boombox, the Mountain Goats have evolved into a tight, road-tested quartet. Their music has grown beyond its lo-fi roots to become progressively lusher and more expansive, with session players brought in to add color and texture through organs, horns, and strings. Bleed Out, by contrast, limits the personnel to the band’s core members plus key addition Alicia Bognanno of Bully, who produces and plays guitar. Shepherded by Bognanno, Bleed Out is Darnielle’s most immediate and focused full-band album in years, with the stylistic flourishes of latter-day Mountain Goats jettisoned in favor of a visceral guitar-rock directness that hits like a fist to the face.

As in the action flicks it draws from, Bleed Out succeeds on a pure popcorn entertainment level. Envisioned by Darnielle as an album of “uptempo jams,” it’s full of hurtling drums, sparkling hooks, and anthemic choruses, and it’s easy to imagine songs like “Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome” becoming fan-favorite sing-alongs when performed live. The trick of series like Rambo or Death Wish, both referenced in the deceptively poppy “First Blood,” is making a toxic power fantasy seem badass and fun. That’s the same trick that Darnielle plays on Bleed Out, rendering his narrators’ doomed quest for bloody revenge as crowd-pleasing, fist-pumping power-pop that’s all too easy to get swept up in.

Darnielle doesn’t let up on the gas until the album’s eponymous closing track, a dreamy reflection from a man slowly bleeding out on the ground: “There won’t be any words of wisdom from me/Just a lake of blood for all the world to see.” Darnielle, like most sane human beings, knows that seeking revenge is ultimately pointless—that’s exactly why it’s so alluring. “You never learn to tell the difference between/The probable projections and the best parts of the dream/The fragments that stick with you, the ones you really feel/Those parts aren’t real,” he sings on “Extraction Point.” But there’s real catharsis in pretend violence, in living out fantasies of meting out justice without any consequences. Bleed Out deconstructs the tropes of action movies just as it lovingly recreates them, letting us have our cake and bludgeon our enemies to death with it too.
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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 - Bleed Out Music Album Reviews The Mountain Goats - Bleed Out Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on August 30, 2022 Rating: 5


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