Home Read Classic Album Review: The Mountain Goats | We Shall All be Healed

Classic Album Review: The Mountain Goats | We Shall All be Healed

John Darnielle’s darkly compelling concept LP is like rubbernecking at a car wreck.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Before Mountain Goats singer-songwriter John Darnielle played Winnipeg a few years ago, he told me he had one main goal while he was in town: To meet the guys in Propagandhi. That took me a bit by surprise — I would have thought him more of a Weakerthans fan.

After all, it doesn’t take a particularly keen ear to note the similarities between Darnielle and John K. Samson — from their reedy voices and literate lyrics to their rootsy indie-pop and cryptic song titles, both men are coming from the same place. On his dozenth full-length release We Shall All be Healed, however, Darnielle follows his muse down a darker, more twisted path than Samson typically treads. Somewhere between a concept album and a narrative song cycle, many of these 13 cuts follow a group of white-trash tweakers on a downward spiral of abuse, misery and paranoia. A

nd while cryptic phone calls, mysterious shipments from Belgium, possible informants, men in hazmat suits and ICU patients handcuffed to their beds may not be the stuff of your average rock song, Darnielle — whether strumming away solo on his acoustic guitar or backed by a ragged garage combo — handles the topics with squirm-inducing frankness, giving these magnificently crafted, starkly arranged and superbly recorded tracks a sinister yet unfailingly compelling edge. Ultimately, listening to We Shall All be Healed is like rubbernecking at a grisly car crash — you know you’re trespassing on the worst moment of someone’s life, but you just can’t make yourself turn away.