Mountain Goats The Sunset Tree

In what some are calling his most intensely personal work, John Darnielle translates his step-father’s passing into a fiercely impassioned collection of new songs. It takes one listen to "Dance Music” to realise that The Sunset Tree is some kind of coping record. With its blend of jaunty guitar, piano and Darnielle’s deceptively dark lyrics, the short song traces a child’s loss of innocence for whom music is a security blanket, clutched for dear life. Darnielle’s narratives are desperate, clinging bouts of mixed emotion that are almost always rendered evenly initially before teetering on the brink of exhaustion and collapse. His pointed cadence makes the trite chorus in "This Year” seem like a ballsy dare, while he projects so loudly over the stabbing strings of "Dilaudid,” it’s enough to cause your speakers to weep. A sense of loss pervades the record, and songs like "Up the Wolves” and "Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod” go further to suggest that Darnielle’s step-father is a spectre here. It’s a bittersweet ode, however, providing the songwriter with a complex amalgam of harrowing imagery and bright music. (4AD)