The Mountain Goats

Get Lonely (4AD)

When you listen to Get Lonely, one thing is certain -- Mountain Goats mainstay John Darnielle has finally received that shipment of Xanax he's been waiting for. Compared with his last three albums, which benefited greatly from the golden touch of indie producer John Vanderslice, Get Lonely is almost devoid of the sharp edges and biting soliloquies that made Darnielle's past work so delectably painful.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of the frantic acoustic strumming of We Shall All Be Healed, the confessions of abuse on The Sunset Tree, or the bitter divorce tales of Tallahassee (its "No Children," incidentally, is the best divorce song ever recorded), Darnielle supplies the listener with almost everything that made him an underground icon in the first place: simple melodies and poignant storytelling.

Get Lonely meanders through its 12 tracks like an afternoon canoe trip with no paddles, never really picking up speed, but always heading in the right direction. It may be a stark departure from the past few years of his career, but Darnielle's latest release is the kind of catharsis that everyone -- artist and audience -- really needed.