Get Lonely -The Mountain Goats: review for Real Groove

On opening track Wild Sage, the narrator walks aimlessly down the road. He falls, skins his hands and laughs to himself. He hears angels. They sound like “marbles being thrown against a mirror.” Four lines later he’s still lying on the ground where he fell, ignoring concerned passers by. The sparse acoustic backing ambles along, oblivious to the mounting eeriness of the imagery. This isn’t juxtaposition for the sake of it. What we have here is someone grief stricken to the point of disconnection by a relationship break up. Other tracks walk a similar line: the tempos relaxed, the chord progressions cheerful, as if in denial of the singer’s disturbed emotional state. It’s a compelling combination, but such an uncomfortable one that whenever the musical backing gets darker (the mournful cello lines on Moon Over Goldsboro; the swelling, vibrato heavy strings threatening to engulf In the Hidden Places before the first line is sung) it practically feels like a relief. In other words, the lonely dude inhabiting these songs simply cannot win. Unless you count how successfully he hides from the fellow humans knocking at his door in If You See Light, or the peaceful baptism he gives himself in In Corolla (and I mean “baptism” in the Flannery O’Connor sense of the word). The New Yorker accused John Darnielle of being America’s finest non hip-hop lyricist. Get Lonely offers up more damning evidence.