CD Review: The Mountain Goats

All Eternals Deck (Merge)

John Darnielle has amassed hundreds of songs over the years, starting in the '90s with a series of low-fi boombox recordings. His compact, fictional style of songwriting pockets dread on All Eternals Deck, especially in the four songs produced by death-metal musician Erik Rutan. (The album's other three producers also helped flesh out the subdued reflections on death and the afterlife on 2009's The Life of the World to Come.) The result is a record of great breadth, one of the most varied in the Mountain Goats' catalog. There are spirited songs ("Estate Sale Sign"), suspenseful songs ("Beautiful Gas Mask"), and a somber country number ("Never Quite Free"). The prolific and consistent Darnielle once again proves why he's one of the best lyricists working today. — Michael Tkach

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