The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle observes a brutal crime scene in the band’s new song “Cadaver Sniffing Dog.” “Hustle up the spiral stairs, see if anything’s left up there/Teams on the scene from several stations; everybody, adjust your expectations,” he sings over a shadowy guitar riff and muted bass. “Stray clumps of hair and blood and brain, fragments of bone in the drain/Rookies trying to keep the airway clear, but the damage is too severe.”
The arrangement’s color palette expands as the track winds on, incorporating strings, backing vocals and a snarling guitar break—an atmosphere that lands somewhere between chamber-pop and kraut-rock. “Cadaver Sniffing Dog” highlights the prolific indie-rock band’s upcoming LP, In League With Dragons. Darnielle crafted a partial rock opera with the 12-track record, which he touted as a new style called “dragon noir.”
“This album began life as a rock opera about a besieged seaside community called Riversend ruled by a benevolent wizard, for which some five to seven songs were written,” Darnielle said in a statement announcing the album.
“As I worked on the Riversend stuff, weird noir visions started creeping in… I thought these moods helped complicate the wizards and dragons a little, and, as I thought about my wizard, his health failing, the invasion by sea almost certain to wipe out half his people, I thought about what such a person might look like in the real world: watching a country show at a midwestern casino, or tryout pitching for an American League team years after having lit up the marquees.”
The Mountain Goats will promote the LP on a North American tour that launches April 26th in Washington D.C.