It would be considerate of John Darnielle to include some kind of Mountain Goats decoder with his wordy new song suite, Heretic Pride. As on all Goats records, his lyrics are the focal point, but for some reason Darnielle denies us a lyric sheet, so you find yourself sitting close to the stereo trying to piece together colourful tales of characters and moments.
Besides the brooding cover art, there are a few sly nods to Swedish black metal in the bouncy acoustic title track, as well as the sensitively sparse Marduk T-shirt Men’s Room Incident. (Parts of Heretic were recorded in Stockholm.)
The death of a reggae star is referenced in the island-flavoured Sept. 15, 1983, while H.P. Lovecraft is reanimated in the incongruously hard-driving Lovecraft In Brooklyn. The music often verges on innocuous, but it serves its purpose as a backdrop for Darnielle’s steadily churning imagination. Weakerthans fans will love this.