Heretic Pride


21 Feb 2008, 3:29

Just ate a lovely piece of halibut, and now I'm excitedly listening to the BRAND NEW Mountain Goats album!

I am coming home to you
With my own blood in my mouth
And I am coming home to you
If it's the last thing that I do.

That's the chorus of Sax Rohmer #1, which lets you know that, at least lyrically, John Darnielle is still John Darnielle.

However, the violins that open the second song, San Bernadino let you know that musically, things have changed a LOT since the old guitar and tape recorder days. But you already knew that, right?

And the day was bright and fine
And the highway sign
Said San Bernadino welcomes you.

It's a short story, as so many MG songs are, and one with a beautiful, bittersweet underlying core of romantic sadness.

The drums are insistent, the basslines driven, as we get to Autoclave

And I am this great unstable mass of blood and foam
And no emotion that's worth having
Can call my heart its home;
My heart's an autoclave.

I really like this one.

I dreamt that I was perched upon a cliff of human skulls...
(You've got to listen to the rest of this verse, I won't spoil it for you).

This is an amazing song right here. It's going to join the list of amazing MG songs that keeps getting longer and longer.

That was actually track 4, cuz I downloaded them slightly out of order (legally, from eMusic, of course). Track 3 is the title cut, Heretic Pride, and it's got that insistent drive as well.

I wanna cry
But I don't scream and I don't shout
And I feel so proud to be alive
And I feel so proud when the reckoning arrives.

This almost sounds apocalyptic. I guess he's a heretic at the last judgment and he's proud of it.

Transfiguration's gonna come for me at last
And I will burn hotter than the sun...
And I feel so proud to be alive.

Cool song. So far so good, definitely.

Next is New Zion, which actually has a tinge of reggae in it, if you can believe that. It seems to be the flip side of "Heretic" with its biblical references and semi-hopeful vibe.

The little bit of faith we had once
Like the memory of a movie
That got burned up in a great fire
Reassembling itself slowly but surely
I lay down by the water
Dreamed a dream of where I come from
Old things made new
Waiting for you.

I dig the organ in that one.

So Desperate takes place in a car in an Episcopal church parking lot. He's trying to talk to a girl and feeling so desperate in her eyes. It's very calm, with only simple accompaniment this time, but a lovely guitar figure nevertheless.

Had my hand in your hair
Trying to keep my cool
Till it became too much to bear...
I felt so desperate in your arms.

On the last chorus, his voice goes up to a sweet, aching falsetto. Heartbreaking.

In the Craters on the Moon:

If the strain proves too much
Give up right away
If the light hurts your eyes,
Stay in your room all day
When the room fills with smoke
Lie down on the floor
In the declining years of the long war.
The blood's in the water
And the shark's gonna come
And we swim in the dark
Until our bodies are numb,
Blind as rats in the moonlight
Too far from shore
In the declining years of the long war.

This song is giving me chills right now, as I type this. Awesome.

Empty room with a lightbulb
Where the phone starts to ring,
Everybody gets nervous
Nobody says anything.
Next day someone's initials
Show up on the door
I think I'm gonna crack
Can't live like this anymore
Ugly things in the darkness
Worse things in store
In the declining years of a long war.

And the music builds to frantic crescendo. There's a great powerful yelp just before the end. If you only get one track from this, make it that one.

Lovecraft in Brooklyn rocks pretty hard for this band. It's referring to HP Lovecraft, I assume, as it has a definite gloomy horror story feel to it. Again, the apocalypse makes an appearance.

Woke up afraid of my own shadow
Like genuinely afraid
Headed for the pawn shop
To buy myself a switchblade.

It gets bloodier from there. Intense, brooding, scary song. And of course, Darnielle pulls it off brilliantly.

And the next song (Tianchi Lake) starts with reassuringly pretty piano and strummed acoustic.

Children by the water bands
Laughing long and loud.

Of course, moments later the body of a sea lion with the head of a horse begins speaking. But the music is still pretty and soft.

Backstroking on the surface,
Moonlight on its face,
Floats the Tianchi monster,
Staring into space.

Does it work? Of course it does! It's beautiful and strange. It's the Mountain Goats.

Speaking of monsters, the next track is called How to Embrace a Swamp Creature. This time, the monster is the narrator. He feels like a swamp creature "out of my element" when visiting his girlfriend.

Meet up with you in the kitchen
Where the air is hot and dry
Open up all the faucets
Be fruitful and multiply...
I try to tell you just why I've come
It's like I've got molasses on my tongue.

The piano does a simple 3 note figure in the chorus that's just gorgeous.

Track 11 is Marduk T-Shirt Men's Room Incident. It's a pretty straightforward MG ballad with nice violin punctuations here and there.

And when I washed my hands
I ran the water hotter than I could stand
Half rising to a crouch
Sinking back down to the floor
In you're walking,
Keep your head low,
Try to leave no traces when you go.
Stay weightless, formless, blameless, nameless.

There are even background voices echoing the last 4 words there. Nice.

The next-to-last song is called Sept 15th 1983. This particular date is 11 days after my 18th birthday. The song itself seems to be about something, but I can't quite pin it down.

Try try your whole life
To be righteous and be good
Wind up on your own floor, choking on blood
The heat drifts across the land
If I forget Israel, let me forget my right hand.

Time out: lunar eclipse!

Update: the last song is called Michael Myers Resplendent. It starts very calm and slow, then accelerates, then slows down again. It seems to be told from the perspective of the actor playing Michael Myers, the bad guy from the movie "Halloween." or maybe not.

Anyway, this album is fantastic, and everyone should get it. Peace.


  • Zarvok

    Your analysis is spot on - this album is great! I especially love Autoclave...

    22 Feb 2008, 4:03
  • AnaAerophina

    Do you think I would like The Mountain Goats? I think i'll check them out when I get some money. Any recommendations album-wise?

    3 Mar 2008, 16:18
  • TheMusicalVito

    Great analysis, but I would implore you to become more acquainted with that Marduk song. You seem to pass over it, implying that maybe it didn't stand out. So beautiful. :)

    24 Abr 2011, 1:41
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