Last year, The Mountain Goats released an album called The Sunset Tree, and something unusual happened. John Darnielle - long recognized by his fans as one of the most imaginative and downright thrilling lyricists of his generation - suddenly found the rest of the world starting to think the same way. The album, the most nakedly autobiographical in a discography which spans 400 or more songs across scores of releases, was widely hailed as a masterpiece; it went on to become the most successful in Mountain Goats history. Get Lonely is every bit as assured as its predecessor, but the mood is entirely different. If The Sunset Tree - which chronicled the fraught, violent relationship between Darnielle and his stepfather - derived its power from an unblinking exorcism of personal demons, Get Lonely is the haunted aftermath. It's a reflective, intimate record; the mood is one of bittersweet resignation rather than cathartic release. Musically, it's a quiet triumph. These elegiac songs are all warmly collaborative affairs, with Darnielle and his long-term collaborators Peter Hughes and Franklin Bruno forming an ensemble captured playing live in the studio - the album murmurs with a modest but entirely surefooted confidence. Other treats in store include the luminous cello playing of Erik Friedlander, the lithe, almost-jazz drumming of Corey Fogel and the multifarious instrumental touches supplied or inspired by producer Scott Solter. And, as ever, Darnielle's lyrics are marvelous - stripped back, this time, but incredibly expressive. Splashes of visual color and arresting images abound.Even at its most languid, Get Lonely is never merely pretty; even at its most troubled, it is never merely dark. It is, in fact, a delicately nuanced gem - an uncannily coherent and subtly redemptive record which will come to be seen as The Mountain Goats' most resonant, assured and magical collection of songs so far.
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