I spend most of the year combing blogs and alt weekly websites and message boards. I sit in the dark with headphones on in hopes of finding a record that’s going to grab hold of my life and refuse to release me. Out of the dozens of albums I hear over the course of a year I’m lucky to find a half dozen that I fall in love with, and I treasure the ones that really stick in my gut.
There’s another kind of record, though, that’s rarer and even more special. It’s not a record you get infatuated with, putting individual songs on repeat for days, and consequently it might not be a record you yell about from the rooftops. This is the kind that clicks right into place in your life. It happens quietly, but it becomes such a pillar of your inner architecture that you can’t remember not turning to this song on lonely nights, or this song to sing along with at red lights, or this song for dark stretches of highway. You’ll always find a use for these songs because they’ll grow with you.
I’ve collected maybe 11 of these musical pillars over the course of my life. It surprises me to say it, but Heretic Pride by The Mountain Goats is the newest among them. I heard it early this year and enjoyed it, then promptly buried it under Young Dro mixtapes and Metacritic favourites. Midsummer turmoil made me dig it out, but an autumn torrent (no pun intended) of great metal albums saw it disappear again. It submerged and resurfaced, there any time I needed it.
What is there to say about John Darnielle’s lyrics? He’s easily one of the best writers in rock music today, compacting subtle and powerful chiaroscuro stories into a few verses, and his various narrators are as fascinating and sympathetic and frightening as ever.
This is a record I’ll hang on to for the long run. I think you will too.