Oh, you know John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, you know him by years of storytelling with his band The Mountain Goats, by his novels, so when the first track of the new album Goths, “Rain in Soho,” launches with an urgent, soft drum attack filigreed with quiet keys and a distant down-and-up piano melody, you’re waiting for Darnielle’s urgent, quarter-spoken vocals, and sure enough, in he comes with “no one knows where the lone wolf sleeps,” and you stop mid-stride in pedestrian traffic. You are and remain riveted. It’s a song about gamers, you’re sure. No one else could tell it.
Oh, and after two verses, behind Darnielle is a high voice descending “no, no, no, no” . . . can my life arc any sweeter? When the chorus cuts in, it’s massed voices underpinned by “no” and “no one knows,” all pounding drama. His voice launches into strident passion, the action rises, high chorals plunge into a final minute of electric piano doodles.
Describing is no substitute for ears. I lost 4 minutes, 46 seconds. Again and again and again . . .