The Mountain Goats have revealed, their new full-length Getting Into Knives, which will drop October 23, on cassette, CD/2-LP via Merge Records, wherever records are sold. Today, the band has shared a Lalitree Darnielle-directed video for the lead single “As Many Candles As Possible,” which features Al Green’s organist Charles Hodges, arrives today.
After working as the engineer for 2019’s In League With Dragons, Matt Ross-Spang suggested the band come down to Sam Phillips Recording for a tour—which in turn led to the decision to record in Memphis and to promote him to producer for the follow-up. Recorded in a single week with “magic” microphones salvaged from The Nashville Network, and in the same room where the Cramps tracked their 1980 debut album, the immediacy of Getting Into Knives burns brightly in desperate contradiction. On “The Last Place I Saw You Alive,” Darnielle details the darkness of knowing you’ll never see a loved one again, and even the potential for hope is subverted. “Us worms turn into butterflies, I guess,” he sings, the heartbreaking sincerity ringing out over resonant piano half a second past the realization that worms aren’t caterpillars. Elsewhere, “Wolf Count” draws sympathy for a wolf being hunted, despite the wolf’s dreams of a good ol’ bloodbath.
“Everything becomes a blur from six feet away,” Darnielle sings on “Tidal Wave.” Written years before any concern for social distancing became a constant subject of conversation, the song insists instead that not every wave is a tidal wave. “Some waves are slow things that cover you without you having noticed,” Darnielle explains. But even that bit of grim perspective has its comforts. “With the album, you either slam the door shut or you open on to the next path,” Darnielle avows. “The trick is to sew up an ending, but at the same time open the doors to the theater and let the sunlight in.” Albums like Getting Into Knives sweep you out that door and away into the center of a vast sea. You may find yourself submerged into inky depths or reaching a purifying breath of air with songs like these. Songs that enlighten despite the inevitability of loss.