By Bryan Kerwin
When I first heard the title of this album, it gave me a mental picture of some kind of twisted indie-rock, Ying-Yang Twins hybrid. But fear not — John Darnielle’s latest is less of a booty jam than a poignant exploration of loneliness (obviously), despair, and general existential crises.
Following 2005’s superb The Sunset Tree, Get Lonely is less overtly autobiographical, but no less haunting. The music is still mostly spare guitar, piano and percussion that imbue the songs with a hushed melancholy, as in the gorgeous “Song for Lonely Giants.” When the drums flare up on the bouncy “Half Dead” or the throbbing “If You See Light” they provide appealing contrast but never take away from the album’s bittersweet aesthetic.
As in most of the Mountain Goats’ catalog, the focus is on Darnielle’s lyrics. Here he employs his trademark narrative thrust to heartbreaking effect, along with pitch-perfect imagery (“I think I hear angels in my ears / like marbles being thrown against a mirror”) and mundane statements that seem somehow profound (“Some days I don’t miss my family / and some days I do.”)
Darnielle’s voice complements his lyrics perfectly. His falsetto sounds like it could break at any moment, and I dare even the most emotionally frigid bastard not to tear up a little at the title track when he sings, “And I will get lonely, and gasp for air / and send your name up from my lips like a signal flare.”
It might not be the most pleasant listening experience you’ve ever had, but for anyone who’s ever been hurt, lonely, or just plain unhappy, the Mountain Goats feel your pain. Get Lonely provides whatever you need in catharsis or commiseration; you’ll never feel so good about feeling so shitty.