Music Monday: The Mountain Goats, Tallahassee

14 Feb

The Mountain Goats are the perfect Valentine’s Day band.

No, wait, where are you going? I promise it’s true.

Hear me out. And don’t look at me like that …

So, the Mountain Goats – which are actually mostly one dude, John Darnielle – write incredible acoustic music that I find absolutely searing. I don’t know their pre-2002 catalogue and there are recent albums that I don’t like and/or just don’t get, but when they’re on, they’re really, incredibly on. Their best-known album (I think?), The Sunset Tree, is an autobiographical set about Darnielle’s childhood and abusive stepfather which is remarkable in its ability to be uplifting even as it’s devastating (yeah, IDK either, but you should buy that album.)

held under these smothering waves
by your strong and thick veined hand,
but one of these days I’m going to wriggle up on dry land.

But I’m not here to talk about The Sunset Tree, I’m here to talk about Tallahassee. Tallahassee! This album is not autobiographical. It’s all songs about a fictional couple Darnielle writes about a lot, the so-called Alpha couple, a miserable pair constantly on the edge of divorce or drinking themselves to death.

So obviously, it’s the perfect Valentine’s Day album!

I am drowning
There is no sign of land
You are coming down with me
Hand in unlovable hand

Okay, okay, I know that makes me sound a little bitter (I’m not) and single (also not, though it’s not specially relevant). Not that there’s anything wrong with being either bitter or single. I mean without bitter we wouldn’t have lemon, lime and bitters, and that would be so sad! But my point is that that’s not really where I’m coming from: I kind of think this is the perfect album to listen today no matter how you feel about Valentine’s Day. It’s blazing and bright and brilliant and, hey, it has its romantic moments:

There is a shortage in the blood supply
But there is no shortage of blood
The way I feel about you baby can’t explain it
You got the best of my love

And, you know, it’s also a witty album. There are jokes in there; and there’s this song, the one I’ll leave you with, the one which I think probably perfectly describes Edward and Bella’s future. It’s funny, sorta sweet, kinda angry. It’s like if you put Valentine’s Day and Twilight in a blender with some critical thinking about overly dependent relationships and what it really means if your boyfriend likes to watch you think and doesn’t like you hanging out with other people.

And now I’m going to make brownies and sift little icing-sugar hearts onto them. But I’ll be singing “Old College Try” while I do it, so it’s not revolting.


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