The Mountain Goats
Tallahassee


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
July 8th, 2008 | 52 replies | 13,625 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Mountain Goat's first attempt at a studio album is a depressingly enjoyable affair.

For Mountain Goats' mastermind John Darnielle, 2002 was a year of resolution as well as a year of new beginnings. It saw the end of Darnielle's ten-plus year run of recording lo-fi gold through a Panasonic RX-FT500 boombox with the release of All Hail West Texas and it also was the year that saw The Mountain Goats' first in-studio release, Tallahassee. Besides being the first Mountain Goats album to feature a full band and a studio, Tallahassee was their first release on the 4AD record label.

Like many Mountain Goats albums, Tallahassee is a concept album. It tells the story of a dying relationship in the Florida panhandle. The title track starts the album with the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar and Darnielle's fragile voice. Lyrically its the closest thing to an honest love song on the album, but you can still sense the tension in Darnielle's words with the bittersweet sarcasm of the last line “What did I come down here for? You...” From this point on the songs become more bitter. The upbeat rhythms of "Southwood Plantation Road" are polar opposites of to the descriptions of arguments; “Our conversations are like minefields / No one's found a safe way through one yet.” Those upbeat major chords soon fade into the somber tale of alcoholism in “Game Shows Touch Our Lives”. In it Darnielle sings “And I handed you a drink of the lovely little thing on which our survival depends / People say friends don't destroy one another.. what do they know about friends?” By the time that the song "No Children" starts to play, the mean-spirited vitriol that would seem like hyperbole out of context (“And I hope you die / I hope we both die”), begins to sound like a battle cry for the damned.

Unfortunately the tension that the album is built on, is interrupted in the second half of the album. “Peacocks”, the first of the filler tracks on the album, is not a bad song per-se, it is just that it lacks the personal angst of the rest of the album and just seems out of place. “Have to Explode” sees the return of the personal storytelling of the first half of the album. The personal disconnect of the characters is made more apparent with the lyrics “Someone's going to do something someone else will regret / I speak in smoke signals and you answer in code.” The album comes to climax with the metaphorical ramblings of the track “Oceanographer's Choice”. “Everybody's going to need a witness / Everybody's going to need a little backup in case the scene gets nasty...” Darnielle rails as the music clashes with intensity. By the time the track ends, so has the relationship that the album is based on. But not to end on a down note, the album ends with a song of hope. A hope that the past can be put behind, and that life can start anew.

Tallahassee, while not the best album in the long discography of The Mountain Goats, is still one of their more enjoyable works. While the story can at times be a little overbearing and the second half of the album seems to drag a bit, Tallahassee displays John Darnielle's talent as a lyricist and contains some of the band's best songs put to tape.



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Darnielle’s genius is to juxtapose familiar scenes of domesticity and married life with unsettling...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2008



17204 Comments


This is my first go at reviewing since the database crash ate my first couple reviews. Any tips and/or criticism is appreciated.

ruskirodrigorocks
October 15th 2008



15 Comments


Good review, worth getting for 'no children' alone. i think the song 'peacocks' perfectly portrays alchoholism.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
October 15th 2008



4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Tracks 6,7,8 ftw

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2010



17204 Comments


I so need to re-write this.

bungy
September 30th 2010



8843 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

might 5 this

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 30th 2010



17204 Comments


You are coming down with me hand in unlovable hand

bungy
September 30th 2010



8843 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

And I hope you die, I hope we both die

Bleekill
November 22nd 2010



832 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think this is my favorite album. It's so close between this, Sunset Tree, Coroner's Gambit and All Hail West Texas. This guy can just do no wrong. "International Small Arms Traffic Blues" "Idylls of Kings" and "Southwood Plantation" rule.

Piglet
May 9th 2011



4653 Comments


Classy first review.
Amazing band.

Sejine
October 23rd 2011



62 Comments


No Children.

That song pretty much makes this album.

Knott-
Emeritus
October 31st 2011



10195 Comments


Old College Try has almost killed me this week. Almost.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2011



23800 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

No Children man, that song makes me ugadhg;akdhlf

(this was taken by me): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLaJVt9FC4o

Athom
Staff Reviewer
October 31st 2011



17204 Comments


People say friends don't destroy one another. What do they know about friends?

Satellite
July 15th 2012



20723 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i hope you die, i hope we both die

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
September 3rd 2012



23800 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

how is the thread for this album 1 page?

amazing stuff here, second only to The Coroner's Gambit for my top Mountain Goats album.

cb123
October 26th 2012



2001 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

had to 5 this, album is so god dam good

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2012



23800 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

5'd

Ire
October 31st 2012



41753 Comments


ya sweet band u like them ok

Ire
October 31st 2012



41753 Comments


oh man that emeritus tag is just wrong wtf no no no oasdfk;jakjdclkj

cinaedus
November 21st 2012



26447 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

since this is their first studio album i'm gonna start here with my backtrackingg

Digging: The Suicide Machines - Destruction By Definition



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