The Mountain Goats
The Sunset Tree


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ben Jimenez USER (36 Reviews)
June 24th, 2007 | 96 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle's folk rock project, use "The Sunset Tree" to tell tales painfully familiar to some, with a nostalgia taken from the distressed mind of a teenager.

John Darnielle is a master of folk rock because he writes with a heart filled with memory and attention to detail, sings with earnest innocence, and plays the guitar to direct rather than accompany the music. Darnielle is The Mountain Goats. Before “The Sunset Tree,” his more poignant story was hardly stressed. “The Sunset Tree” is about your abusive childhood, your stereo offering refuge, and your challenge to the universe of your existence. Darnielle offers an audio autobiography to help sort through the madness, including his own distressed childhood with an abusive stepfather. His hopes and fears are told through the innocent eyes of a child, through the menacingly curious teeth of a teenager, and through the worn skin of a veteran of the game called life. “The Sunset Tree” flourishes and takes the listener to the frontiers of folk rock because with every intricate feature, another nail is uprooted from your insecure coffins thought shut for good.

Darnielle’s childhood was beaten into submission and fright by a stepfather who lived a lifetime too long. “The Sunset Tree” demonstrates that there was little sanctuary for Darnielle, but where he found his release he captured each day like it was his last and lived for moments that would one day be able to brighten the eyes on his grandchildren. The intensity of the album is aggravated by violins in a rage. On “Lion’s Teeth” and “Dilaudid,” Darnielle goes through dramatic metaphorical incidents that include emotional struggles with his stepfather and an urgency to live, respectively. “Lion’s Teeth” is the tense struggle in which Darnielle challenges the Lion by reaching into its mouth and gripping one of its teeth as he cares to “hold on for dear life” during his challenge of the Lion. “Dilaudid” stresses the intensity with a consistently deep violin tone sawing through the calm from the previous songs. He pleas over the construction “so kiss me with your mouth open / and take your foot off of the brake / for Christ’s sake.” Songs like “Dilaudid” occur throughout the album and place importance on realizing the magnificence of the escape from troubles that seem so stifling. It’s the escape that can only be felt during a long drive with your teenage girlfriend on a road unfamiliar or lying in her bedroom while you eye the clock on her dresser.

The juxtaposition of safety through music and the violence surrounding Darnielle’s childhood is conveyed remarkably through the cheery “Dance Music.” It is frighteningly cheery with light guitar strumming and piano but convincingly so because it is told through the eyes of a child who is more worried about losing their stereo to an angry outburst rather than the “strong and thick veined hand” as described on “Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod.” The end of the album smoothes out the messages and stories Darnielle has made known. “Love Love Love” and “Pale Green Things” are serene moral tales. “Love...” ensures the listener that pursuits through love are the ones that are the most fulfilling and provide the most return. The closer “Pale Green Things” provides a fitting reminiscence of Darnielle’s father, now passed on. When you remember those close figures in life that treated you so badly, their deaths often bring upon a happier memory than your worst moments. It is a recognizable feeling that has the ability to hit very close to home.

“The Sunset Tree” does not tell the listener how to live but it demonstrates solace in apparently hopeless situations. Darnielle’s story can be absorbed with empathy in various ways, whether the listener has grown up experiencing an abusive childhood, or needs music to get through the next year or just the next five minutes. With the beauty of “The Sunset Tree” you’ll find equal refuge from chaos experienced today or during your impenetrable youth.



Recent reviews by this author
Lagwagon HossJ Church Prophylaxis
Bomb the Music Industry! Everybody That You LoveJens Lekman Night Falls Over Kortedala
NOFX The Longest LineThe Ergs! Dorkrockcorkrod
user ratings (344)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
samthebassman
June 24th 2007


2164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Excellent review.

This is a gorgeous album.

margin0walker
June 25th 2007


5 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

one of my all time favorites. solid songs all the way through, a sad story, wonderful lyrics. genius.

Kiran
Emeritus
November 12th 2008


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is so good.

Digging: Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson

CompanionCube
March 29th 2009


977 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

some of the most depressingly happy songs ive ever heard

CompanionCube
July 12th 2009


977 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

suprising how this is overlooked so much considering everyones jizz fest with neutral milk hotel and the fact that they sound so alike

PanasonicYouth
October 15th 2009


7412 Comments


quickly becoming my favorite mountain goats album
so fucking depressingly awesome

BenedictVII
October 15th 2009


369 Comments


This sounds like an album I need to get.

thediamondcanopy
February 4th 2010


511 Comments


Love this.

bungy
February 18th 2010


8843 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love Darnielle.

BledWh1te
June 1st 2010


7 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Anyone who doesn't like this album even a little bit has NO SOUL. Or has lived an easy, uneventful life and simply can't relate. (if there's a difference)

Piglet
August 27th 2010


4663 Comments


Has me intrigued

patroneyes
September 3rd 2010


1919 Comments


so which albums by these guys are the better ones/good ones to pick up

bungy
September 27th 2010


8843 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

DISHES IN THE KITCHEN SINK

bungy
September 27th 2010


8843 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

HALF EATEN GALLONS OF ICE CREAM

SeaAnemone
September 27th 2010


20834 Comments


I PLAYED VIDEOGAMES IN A DRUNKEN HAZE

BigTuna
October 1st 2010


5161 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

DANCE MUSIC

BigTuna
October 15th 2010


5161 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I AM A BABBLING BROOOOOOOOK

Athom
Staff Reviewer
December 10th 2010


17225 Comments


So i've come to the conclusion that I'm gonna spend my free weekends during winter break to go to open mics and play nothing but Mountain Goats songs.

DeafMetal
May 7th 2011


8588 Comments


it took all the coke in town to bring down dennis brown

mallen-
October 30th 2011


1235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy