The Mountain Goats: All Eternals Deck 

Merge

On his best and most accessible record since 2005's The Sunset Tree, Mountain Goats CEO John Darnielle sounds as if he's finally free of at least some of the demons that have possessed his oft-tortured work from day one. That's not to say All Eternals Deck is a happy-sounding record, though it is, I daresay, an uplifting one. It's also a departure, or at least as much of one as we've ever seen from Darnielle. "High Hawk Season," with its rousing four-part baritone harmonies, and the synth-laden "For Charles Bronson" offer glimpses of a new, more cohesive Mountain Goats, now an honest-to-goodness band and not just a one-man show. But it's Darnielle's incisive lyricism that still steers the ship; those fundamentally turned off by the literary singer's historical, narrative-driven song-ologues will find little to love here. Fans - longtime and more recently converted - will delight in every lovely minute. (4 out of 5 stars)

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