The Mountain Goats - The Coroner's Gambit

The Mountain Goats
The Coroner’s Gambit
Absolutely Kosher

This album is devastating. So much so that it’s hardly worth a try at cleverness. Besides, John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats seems to have that market cornered. Those familiar with other Mountain Goats’ work may know what to expect, but they will still be surprised. There are more acrobatics here, more vocal modulation and even a few bits of banjo, violin, percussion, and others. In past releases, there is either singy-John or shouty-John but with The Coroner’s Gambit the field is expanded to include new entries like breathy-John and croony-John - all of which are welcome. New tricks aside, it is Darnielle’s familiar deftness at wedding his incisive wit with lyrical poignancy that makes this release another gem. Dotted throughout the disc are moments of intense crystallization. These tiny epiphanies are fragile, powerful and ready to collapse upon themselves. For example, "There Will Be No Divorce" effortlessly compounds the entire nature of a relationship into a single moment of morning awakening that’s as wonderful and tragic as anything he has written. As with previous outings, Darnielle’s geographic preoccupations surface on tracks like "Jaipur" and "We Were Patriots," this time mostly orbiting around India. In an oeuvre otherwise marked by a peculiar and delightful sense of humor, The Coroner’s Gambit has a darker subtext as revealed in the liner notes and Darnielle’s address to a friend who committed suicide. That extra layer gives the whole release more emotional weight than in the past that perhaps renders it less fun, but allows a deeper resonance.