Twenty years after John Darnielle began recording albums on a boombox, his head is still exploding with words. The Mountain Goats’ latest shows Darnielle’s folk rock growing more diverse, swelled with strings and choral harmonizing. “High Hawk Season” sounds like Fleet Foxes reimagined as a New York street gang with lit Ph.D.s. Darnielle’s lyrics here are more impressionistic, but his wordplay is always suffused with emotion. When he sings “these bite marks deep in my arteries” on “Damn These Vampires,” he seems to be cursing pop culture’s hold on him — and savoring it, too.
Listen to “Damn These Vampires”:
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