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The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride

Released on 4AD, 2/18/08

The Mountain Goats have come a long way since the days when they covered Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Lead vocalist and songwriter, John Darnielle says it himself in the albumís second song "San Bernadino". Heretic Pride, the bandís 11th full-length recording since 1994, is like a kaleidoscope.

From the string instruments that feature throughout "San Bernadino", mixed with Darnielleís shrill voice and laid-back bongo drums in "September 15 1983", The Mountain Goatsí indie album is a fireworks display -- upbeat, heartfelt, dark, honest, depressing, engaging and in some parts, hopelessly romantic Ė that takes us through every emotion.

Darnielle is hopeful on the title track "Heretic Pride"; he is desperate in the aptly titled "So Desperate"; and he is romantic in "San Bernadino"; and yet fiercely insecure in "Autoclave" -- "I am this great unstable mass of blood and foam and no one in her right mind would make my home her home". Indeed, a kaleidoscope.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things when listening to Heretic Pride, is deciphering the lyrics. Whilst the words are definitely clear, their meaning is not always so crystal. On "Heretic Pride", for example, the music is soft and soothing. The lyrics also seem relatively sedate until you realize that Darnielle is singing about the last thoughts of a man about to be killed. In any event, the pure curiosity of Darnielleís famous literacy keeps us guessing.

Despite a couple of underachievers, this album is interesting and exciting -- particularly for the thinkers among us.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.