Albums of 2008: Day 5 – The Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride

Heretic Pride was one of the first new albums that I checked out this year. February seems like such a long time ago, but I can remember listening to “Autoclave” and tucking my chin into my scarf to guard against the cold on the way to work. Now it’s chilly again and these songs can bring warmth once more. John Darnielle’s music exudes a familiar coziness, like a blanket woven from wistfulness, insight and artfully intimate storytelling.

There aren’t many singer-songwriters who can sing a chorus of “I felt so desperate in your arms” and have it come across not at all cheesy, but in fact heartwrenchingly honest and sincere. He makes the emoist of emo somehow not emo at all. You might think that Darnielle’s ability to do this comes from his years of experience, but he was tapping the same rich vein of songwriting on Full Force Galesburg in 1997, and he’ll probably be collecting and molding this same musical sap for years to come.

“Lovecraft in Brooklyn” certainly strikes me an interesting new way now that I inhabit said borough. A reference to the time that xenophobic science fiction H.P. Lovecraft writer spent in Red Hook, the song is a heavy (for the Goats, at least) affair that unleashes a paranoid, intense dash through the city. “Tianchi Lake,” which follows, is the exact opposite—a floating, atmospheric tale of a mythical mountain lake monster. Oh, the ways of Mr. Darnielle. They are abundant and always worth lending an ear.

Watch the video for “Sax Rohmer #1.”

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