All Eternals Deck is the newest album by lo-fi artists, The Mountain Goats. John Darnielle, the creative force behind the band, continues to show mastery of lyrical content with very intimate songwriting which has become a staple point of the band since the advent of his career as an indie icon. Darnielle has, until now, worked with a revolving door of musicians, leaving him as the center. However, with the addition of a more secure lineup, the changes in musical dynamic are noticeable in their stability.
The songs themselves are bittersweet and somewhat sardonic but so beautifully written that they’re almost uplifting in their somberness. If there was one phrase to describe the theme of the album, it would be “letting go”. Whether it’s letting go of a relationship, childhood trauma or idealism, the album tells tales of moving on and being strong in the face of past experiences and the effects of holding on to those things.
This theme is most plainly stated in the song “Never Quite Free” about moving on from adversity but finding that it never fully leaves you. With lyrics like “Never get away, never get away, I am never ever gonna get away from this place” in the album’s last track it’s not difficult to see Darnielle’s message.
The music itself is sound, stable and adds to an overall melodic sensibility that accompanies the tracks. If one criticism could be offered, it would be that all in all, it’s not a very happy-go-lucky album and takes a certain type of listener to fully appreciate not only the sometimes depressing lyrics but the music itself that does not really try to break the mold. This however, should in no way discourage giving the album a chance. People who can appreciate intelligent lyrics and off-kilter dynamics should have no problem adding All Eternals Deck to their musical repertoire.