Review Summary: Practically a modern classic.
Bleed Out is a feel good/bad album depending on your personality type. The lyrical front persistently hits us with facts like life is difficult, jobs suck, but we are tough and have to be tough. It succeeds in telling their story, but also the story of half the world and therefore hits very close to home. The authenticity on display compelled me to see what story The Mountain Goats would tell next, and they were told well, with quite a bit of cheekiness. There’s much encouragement to simmer the depression, and overall the lyrics bleed with emotion. It’s quite exciting stuff, and the storytelling never loses its charming potency.
The blessed part is the music matches the ordinary, yet dramatic tone of the lyrics. The album feels like an oldie but a goodie; it’s easy indie rock listening throughout, but still very catchy. The singing also has a familiar tone, like it could have been my neighbour on the mic - vocal notes are warm and friendly. It made me more interested in what he might say. A prevailing theme in the album is the way it hooks you. As simple as the lyrics and singing are, the simplicity wins the day in this case. They don’t need to make weird music here, the tangible, Earthy musical qualities fit perfect the story.
The indie rock here is stable but not necessarily repetitive, despite similar sounds and flows. Beats and electric guitars shift from a light palm breeze reminding me of surfer rock, to punk influenced songs. There’s a little pop, a little funkiness, and melodic horn parts; there’s just enough electric jolts to keep me on my toes during simplistic instrumentals. Also worth mentioning is the very present and straightforward bass guitar which provides a rock hard backing. It’s not a perfect album, the songs can drag out instrumental portions, but the rhythm is always good.
Despite lyrics about the harsh reality of life, I still felt good listening to this music. It felt like just another day in the life, a non-stressful listen, a reflecting journey that was exceedingly relatable. Perhaps it is too easy of a listen, and it certainly has little complexity to frown at and dissect, but that’s also what I love about this clearly indie release. The acoustics and electric bits are satisfying throughout, it’s never too much, the perfect portion. The album keeps up its calm, personal adventure, and enwrapped me in the process.
The real bummer here is that the album barely rocks. It’s right on the edge between sounding like a nobody-band playing in small venues, and a more successful one. Their soundscape can often seem meagre and bare bones (it’s not always engaging, and the instruments can provide a very basic backdrop) but there’s always a quirky vocal hook around the corner to sweep us back into their world. The music is also very tight; there’s no sense that they’re playing lazily even when the singer tries short little notes. It all goes together like buttered bread, and the songs never lose their charm. This is more than just a well crafted and produced collection of relaxing, yet indulgent songs, it is an exploration of feelings and musings put to music, and that’s where music hits. The rawness of it all - the knowing that we’ve been through what the singer talks about - is powerful. These vibes go beyond what mere words can express and give this album a strong voice, an urgent reason to be listened to. Simple indie rock with a simple message is the overall sentiment, and it is a compelling one; I won’t be putting this album aside for a while yet.