Though the latest release from The Mountain Goats, Dark in Here, may (from the title) seem like another album created during quarantine, it was actually recorded the second week of March 2020. Just before COVID hit the U.S., the group had just finished recording their previous album, Getting into Knives, in the first week of March 2020 in Memphis and happed to have another full set of songs ready to go. They managed to “sneak in” a recording session the following week at the famous Muscle Shoals recording studio in Alabama. Though not as upbeat as Getting into Knives, Dark in Here is still a solid release from The Mountain Goats that loyal fans will appreciate.
The album kicks off with maybe its two most rocking tracks; “Parisian Enclave” is mostly a catchy chorus paired with a couple of simple verses, sang over an insistent acoustic guitar strum while drummer John Wurster keeps a thumping kick drum and tambourine going almost nonstop for the one-and-a-half-minute track. “The Destruction of the Kola Superdeep Borehole Tower” is an upbeat minor-key rocker with bassist Peter Hughes’ distinctive warm bass providing a stable beat alongside Wurster’s drums while legendary keyboardist Spooner Oldham takes center stage on a Hammond B3 organ. “Lizard Suit” is mostly piano driven, but Wurster’s cymbal-heavy drum work and a catchy bassline from Hughes really serve to convey the frustration that John Darnielle sings of. Darnielle sings, “I wear my lizard suit to the party / It’s so hard to get noticed in this town” before the song breaks into a chaotic jam. Another jam session takes place at the end of “The Slow Parts on Death Metal Albums”. The song begins as a slow track with electric piano playing over a steady bass line while Darnielle croons. As the four-minute mark hits the band jams for another couple of minutes to close out the track.
Even though Dark in Here’s track list seems to be all over the place in terms of style, it is a solid album and one that will certainly get many repeat listens. Fans of The Mountain Goats are known to be fiercely loyal to the band and have a great appreciation for Darnielle’s lyrics. Dark in Here will definitely not disappoint.
Photo by Jade Wilson