If you're not one for being preached at, you might quickly skip over an album with songs named after passages of the Bible. And why wouldn't you? We get enough sermons, already. Plus, this sort of writing trick has the potential of becoming heavy-handed.
On The Mountain Goats' latest, The Life of the World to Come, frontman John Darnielle tells stories of characters dealing with cancer, imprisonment and drug addiction. The songs are titled "Hebrews 11:40" or "Romans 10:91," which automatically gives it a spiritual framework. Fortunately, none of it is too literal. In the piano-entwined "Deuteronomy 2:10" Darnielle sings about someone stuck behind chain links and concrete, saying, "Look hard at my stripes, there will be no more after me." And if you look up Deuteronomy 2:10 you'll notice it references the Emims, an extinct group of giants who were eventually conquered.
Well, fine. I can warm up to the idea of looking up passages and making connections with Darnielle's strong imagery. The motif's okay, but the organ-like chords and dramatic sentimentalism still gives it an over-serious piety. And that's all a bit much.
The Mountain Goats play the Palace Saturday, June 5, at 9 PM with The Beets. $12/$10 advance at Ear Candy.