Home Read Classic Album Review: The Mountain Goats | Tallahassee

Classic Album Review: The Mountain Goats | Tallahassee

The inde-rock iconoclast finally makes the leap from the boombox to the studio.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


For more than a decade, Mountain Goats singer, songwriter and sole permanent member John Darnielle has recorded his indie-folk songs on a boom box — not only for the economy and convenience of it, but also for the immediacy and truth it captured in his work.

And while his approach hasn’t earned him any gold records, it has won him a loyal following. Doubtless, some of them will be bummed to learn Tallahassee, his umpteenth CD, is also his first full-fledged studio production. But before they start whispering sellout, they should give it a shot — because along with being his best-sounding record to date, Tallahassee may also be his most ambitious, fully executed and downright beautiful album. A narrative song cycle/concept album, Tallahassee tells the tale of a dysfunctional couple who move to the title city to escape their lives, only to end up drinking themselves to death. Yep, it’s bleak stuff. But Darnielle’s superior songcraft — his acoustic-guitar troubadourism and nasal vocals are every bit as distinctive and idiosyncratic as his rich, hyperliterate lyrics and wickedly dark humour — turn what could easily be depressing fare into a gorgeous home-woven tapestry of heartbreak and despair. It’s icing on the cake that we get to hear it so clearly this time. With any luck, plenty of other folks will too.