Friday, October 16, 2009

The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come

The Mountain Goats – The Life of the World to Come
4AD, 2009
Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2009
Price: $20

I wasn't planning on buying this. I was selling records that day, and planning on buying Kurt Vile's Childish Prodigy. I began having doubts, though, when I realized that three of the songs that were on that CD were not on the Kurt Vile vinyl, which was already pretty expensive ($17 fucking dollars! Damn Matador!). Then I saw this, which had just come out that day as well! I'd given it a few listens and thought it was pretty good, but a little lacking. But I noticed that out of the three copies of this at the store, there was one that was part of the limited pressing. That limited pressing was limited to 777 copies and came on purple vinyl. Yes, I think the 777 thing is really cool given the religious themes of this record but wait, purple vinyl? PURPLE FUCKING VINYL?! You had me at purple vinyl. Suddenly I was carrying this around and even though I only got like, $14 in store credit I paid the extra money to get this. Why? Why get a record I wasn't gaga over? Because I knew it was growing on me, and I knew I would love it and I couldn't pass this up. Plus, I've stolen enough of John Darnielle's music over the years, I figure I owe the dude. Hence, I try to buy all of his records when they come out. I pry would have bought this one, eventually, but would it have been on purple vinyl? No, it wouldn't, and I would have regretted not getting it on purple vinyl. I hate double LPs but man, I'll say it one last time: PURPLE FUCKING VINYL! And yeah, the record has grown on me even more. It's got elements of his last three records all thrown together under the overarching concept of...Bible verses. The first time I saw that I was like “what the?” but then I realized that it was John Darnielle and if he wanted to write an opera about the Ottoman Empire or compose a song cycle about various types of soil or cover the ABC song he would find a way to make it brilliant. Because he's one of the top 5 songwriters writing songs right now, and goddamnit, he's pry up there with Bob Dylan. Or will be some day. Reading the verses along with the record is fun, too. Like piecing together Tallahassee. The first track I heard, “Genesis 3:23,” the one 4AD leaked, is the most upbeat song on the record and it's about the verse where Adam and Eve get kicked out of the Garden of Eden. The song is about going back to a house where you used to live and remembering what your life was like back then and how it was different from what your life turned into. I think about that sentiment every time I drive past 1131 Tennessee and everything that happened there. That house was amazing, and so much drama occurred inside of it. Things that felt so huge and important at the time, things that are just memories now, fond or not. These songs just get better and better. At first I thought Darnielle's lyrics were slight, but really they're just broad. In a good way. Then at times they're violently specific, as on “Matthew 25:21.” The verse is basically about living in the Kingdom of the Lord in heaven. The song is about watching his mother-in-law die of cancer in a hospital. This is all like an elaborate art project or someone's master's thesis. And it's one that gets an A.

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