Music Review: The Mountain Goats get a little lost in the darkness of Goths

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Goths, the Mountain Goats’ 16th studio album, opens with “Rain In Soho,” a barnburner of a song that belies the subdued nature of the tracks that follow. In fact, it gets things off to such a rousing start that it’s easy to overlook what’s missing—namely, frontman John Darnielle’s guitar. As mentioned in the album’s liner notes, Goths is completely free of strings aside from Peter Hughes’ bass. Even when Darnielle bangs on piano keys, as he does throughout “Rain,” it’s on a Fender Rhodes, which has tines instead.

That’s fine. After all, Darnielle’s much better known for his lyrical storytelling than his guitar chops (though they are more than proficient). Still, the absence of his Gibson is felt throughout Goths, a record that has raised a lot of eyebrows with its title and attendant theme. It’s not as though The Mountain …