Mountain Goats The Life of the World to Come

Mountain Goats The Life of the World to Come

Folk storytellers from Dylan to Sufjan have pulled the bible from the drawer for inspiration, but on this 17th the Mountain Goats album, religious faith functions more as frame and touchstone than pure source. One of John Darnielle's key narratives over the years has been finding hope and meaning in things otherwise horrible: We Shall All Be Healed's addicts and throwaways or The Sunset Tree's abused childhood, for example. The Life of the World to Come finds moments where redemption is a feverish need to go on, either living or in preparation for what comes next. The thematic heaviness is musically underplayed, with Jon Wurster finding the right energy level on drums to swing the heartache, with occasional and unobtrusive strings by Owen Pallett. Darnielle takes an uncharacteristic seat at the piano for a couple of powerfully minimalist tracks where the pedals depressing sound like a ghost in the room. From writing through production and performance, it ranks with the best of his work. (4AD)