the Mountain Goats // In League With Dragons
Despite what that title alludes to, this tMG record doesn't have the magic of previous releases.
The Mountain Goats
In League With Dragons
For more than a decade now, the Mountain Goats (tMG) have been my favorite band. Songwriter John Darnielle is a magnetic personality, with an unflinching openness that's perhaps one of his most alluring qualities. He's also one of the world's most acclaimed lyricists. Despite what that title alludes to, this tMG record doesn't have the magic of previous releases. There are plenty of impressive musical moments: the insanely talented Matt Douglas' superb saxophone solo at the end of "Younger," the frenetic guitar solo of "Cadaver Sniffing Dog," and the flower-child jangle of "Passaic 1975." There's the country touches, the pedal steel of the titular track, and the subtle twangy lead of "Doc Gooden," leading to the cartoonish pastiche of "Waylon Jennings Live!" The problem here is that this record is instantly forgettable. As Darnielle tries to legitimize the music of tMG to keep pace with the lyrics, he loses sight of what made tMG so special years ago — unrelenting passion filled with imperfections and a stripped-down sound even as a full band. This album comes off more like a riff on Steely Dan or The Moody Blues — commendable and adroit, yet woefully uninspired.
— Nick Warren