The Mountain Goats
The Coroner's Gambit


4.5
superb

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
March 2nd, 2010 | 121 replies | 14,924 views


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: At 5 AM I turned the radio on and an old mans voice sang a short sweet song, and then the static roared again hungry for blood...

By the time that John Darnielle, also known by his cloven alter-ego The Mountain Goats, set out to write 2000's The Coroner's Gambit he had nine full-lengths and almost double that amount of lesser known singles and EP's to his name, but he had still yet to fully come into his own. True, he had already created the bitter and divisive Alpha couple, a concept he would fully explore later on Tallahassee, and released two damn near flawless albums in Sweden and Nothing for Juice, yet those were just growing pains, a sign of things to come, a glimpse of the near limitless potential of Darnielle, his guitar, and a Panasonic RX-FT5000*boombox to record into. After a decade of honing his craft, The Coroner's Gambit marks The Mountain Goat's first masterpiece.

Like every Mountain Goats album before 2002's Tallahassee, The Coroner's Gambit is a musically simple, yet emotionally complex, collection of lo-fi gold, eschewing professional conventions in favor of intimate, homebrewed numbers awash in a tinny haze of tape hiss, charmingly under produced acoustic guitar, and buzzing vocals. Even on his earliest songs, Darnielle's hyper-literate prose was, and still is, one of music's best kept secrets, and the 16 songs on display here mark his evolution from bookish wordsmith to enlightened philosopher. Bittersweet and unnerving, the stories presented on The Coroner's Gambit, while mostly fictitious, are so hauntingly bare that it is hard to believe that Darnielle hasn't lived dozens of lives, each full of despair and distrust, as well as joy and rapture, displaying his uncanny ability to wrap his bleak musings on the best and the worst of human interactions in the prettiest of melodies.



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user ratings (108)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Blindsided
March 2nd 2010



1871 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Inspired by our conversation last night?

PirateSquid
March 2nd 2010



1881 Comments


oh yeah no it's a well known fact these guys have awful lyrics

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2010



17211 Comments


@joseph: yeah, it got me listening to this on repeat

Digging: DJ Sprinkles - Midtown 120 Blues

Blindsided
March 2nd 2010



1871 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good thing. Hopefully I'll get to their album before the weekend is here.
Listening to Dopesmoker right now.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2010



17211 Comments


when you get to We Shall All be Healed let me know what you think

SeaAnemone
March 3rd 2010



20283 Comments


you're really the master of these concise reviews. they're much easier to read than some of the more detailed ones, yet unlike some newer reviewers you're able to fit in so much more substance because your diction is used so well... something I really need to work on.

anyway, the fact that the rec'd by reviewer has 3 of my all-time top 10 is no coincidence, it's a crime I don't listen to Darnielle more.

Digging: Natural Snow Buildings - The Night Country

illmitch
March 3rd 2010



5429 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

god i fucking love the mountain goats. great review, i need to listen to this album more - i usually stick with All Hail West Texas and Ghana.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2010



17211 Comments


my favorite of his lo-fi stuff is this and Nothing for Juice. it's all great though

bungy
January 20th 2011



8843 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this world couldn't hold you, you slipped freeeee

Kris.
January 20th 2011



12345 Comments


so good fuk

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2011



17211 Comments


tbh this is my favorite review i've written. this album is so so so perfect.

bungy
January 20th 2011



8843 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

that five line last sentence rules and sums it up perfectly

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2011



17211 Comments


haha just fixed a year old typo in it. thanks for mentioning it so i read it over.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2011



17211 Comments


there will be no divorce is one of the best songs ever written

Bleekill
January 27th 2011



832 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

So many songs he writes are up there. I still love Coroner's Gambit and Jaipur the best off this one.

Death came a-calling today, I heard the bitter grace of his cadences. I couldn't say no, I couldn't say no.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 30th 2011



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

family happiness is SO GOOD

thebhoy
Emeritus
March 30th 2011



4459 Comments


here's an album I need pronto

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 30th 2011



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the mountain goats are basically cormac mccarthy novels in music form

Gyromania
March 30th 2011



15677 Comments


Can't wait to hear this.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
March 30th 2011



16137 Comments


Yeah, pretty stoked. Very consistent band. Album title is fucking awesome.



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