Published Apr 20, 2020It's difficult to find fault with Songs for Pierre Chuvin, a ten-day recording effort to raise some money for the Mountain Goats' road crew during the coronavirus shutdown. It's such a good-hearted gesture that the idea of 'critique' seems misplaced. But since Songs for Pierre Chuvin is also a genuinely great collection of songs, it's worth celebrating anyway.
The Mountain Goats have never been big on production, but this is as intimate as it gets. One guitar, one voice, recorded on a boombox, with nothing to go on but lyrics and a simple strumming melody. But on "Until Olympius Returns" "For the Snakes" and "Their Gods Do Not Have Surgeons," John Darnielle shows himself again to be an exceptional songwriter. On "Last Gasp at Calma," the record's best track, he manages to write something that would sound great as a fireplace singalong or as a stadium-sized anthem. Given the fast turnover rate for this album, it's an impressive feat.
Songs for Pierre Chuvin is as pure as it gets. John Darnielle was born to be a singer, and in this totally stripped-down format, he sounds transcendent. The Mountain Goats really haven't gotten the attention they deserve over the past several years, so if you want to introduce someone to them, Songs for Pierre Chuvin is a fitting choice. It's a great example of the heart of the band. (Merge)