I usually don't write about non-metal releases. However, I've really enjoyed this album, so I'm going to talk about it anyway. About a year ago I got a pre-release copy of this album from my college radio station. I set it down and for a while I forgot about it, but in the past few days I've picked it back up and found myself listening to it repeatedly.
The Mountain Goats are an indie band with just one real member, and "they" have been recording since the early 90s. This is the first album of by them that I've personally heard, but I expect I'll be looking for more soon.
This album is, though generally within the indie-folk vein, fairly diverse. Some tracks are pretty much indie pop/rock. Others are best described as "Dark Americana" (I don't know if that's a generally accepted term, but Full Metal Attorney has used it and I like the way it sounds). Others sound like what I imagine would result from the Grateful Dead covering Phil Ochs. Throughout, this definitely strikes me as a record hipsters probably really like. Despite that stigma (and yes, I do feel "hipster music" is a definite stigma) this was a rare album in that vein which I walked away from feeling extremely pleased with the experience. The changes of pace keep the album from blurring together by refocusing the listener's attention every few minutes. The lyrics are intelligent and effective while managing to stop just an eyelash short of pretentious. The structure of the music itself had that experimental indie vibe without losing the fundamental listenability of a good singer-songwriter. Most importantly, it all came together in a cohesive package: I found myself drawn in by almost every song.
I liked this album better than any other non-metal release I've heard in the past year.