First Listen

First Listen: The Mountain Goats, 'All Eternals Deck'

The Mountain Goats newest album, All Eternals Deck, will be released on March 29. i i

The Mountain Goats newest album, All Eternals Deck, will be released on March 29. Steven Dewall/Courtesy of Shore Fire Media hide caption

itoggle caption Steven Dewall/Courtesy of Shore Fire Media
The Mountain Goats newest album, All Eternals Deck, will be released on March 29.

The Mountain Goats newest album, All Eternals Deck, will be released on March 29.

Steven Dewall/Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

In "High Hawk Season," from the forthcoming All Eternals Deck, The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle sums up his M.O. in one line: "We are young supernovas and the heat's about to break." It's all there — the desperation of youth, the imminence of disaster — up to and including the way Darnielle's words are packaged in an arrangement that's almost jarringly laid-back. Once a wild man whose shouted white-knuckle screeds could barely be contained by the crummy boom boxes on which he recorded them, Darnielle has aged into a singing poet whose words still hit like punches.

"High Hawk Season" even employs barbershop-style harmonies, a trick that couldn't be farther removed from The Mountain Goats' early recordings, but All Eternals Deck is no timid stroll. The raging "Estate Sale Sign," for example, promises to join the ranks of "This Year" and "No Children" as anthems suitable for shouting along at Mountain Goats shows for eons to come; the song gathers up two lifetimes' worth of meaningless detritus and sells it off to an indifferent world. If Darnielle's hollered chorus doesn't capture the impending doom — "Every martyr in this jungle is gonna get his wish" — nothing could.

For the most part, though, All Eternals Deck keeps its energy tightly coiled, even downright gentle. That approach has served Darnielle well on his most recent records — 2009's unrelentingly somber The Life of the World to Come, his Extra Lens side project's more breezily paced Undercard, and so on — and it continues to pay rich dividends here.

All Eternals Deck will stream here in its entirety leading up to its release on March 29. Please leave your thoughts on the album in the comments section below.

First Listen