As promised upon the recent announcement of an extensive headlining tour, The Mountain Goats have officially unveiled their 17th studio album, In League With Dragons, and released its lead single, “Younger.”
Due out April 26 on Merge Records, In League With Dragons “surges with wild tales of revenge and redemption, heroes at a crossroads and great figures in decline” over its dozen new, John Darnielle-penned tracks, which “luxuriate in a wide swath of sounds, from shades of the ‘80s Athens scene to swathes of outlaw country and a few motorik meditations,” per a press release. “Younger” is telling evidence of the album’s eclectic genre-hopping, foregrounding the guitars that 2017’s Goths eschewed entirely and ending with a sax solo, of all things.
Darnielle will perform and elaborate on the band’s album announcement via Facebook Live this afternoon, broadcasting from the headquarters of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering masterminds Wizards of the Coast. You can catch that livestream starting at 4 p.m. EST via the band’s Facebook page.
The Mountain Goats frontman opined on the band’s latest in a characteristically sprawling statement, describing its rock opera-meets-high fantasy style as “dragon noir”:
This album began life as a rock opera about a besieged seaside community called Riversend ruled by a benevolent wizard, for which some five to seven songs were written. When I’m focusing on a project, I always distract myself from the through-line with multiple byways, which are kind of like mini-games within the broader architecture of a long videogame. As I worked on the Riversend stuff, weird noir visions started creeping in, probably under the influence of Leonardo Sciascia (a Sicilian author, he wrote mysteries) and Ross MacDonald’s The Zebra-Striped Hearse, which a friend from Port Washington gave me while I was in the thick of the writing. I thought these moods helped complicate the wizards and dragons a little, and, as I thought about my wizard, his health failing, the invasion by sea almost certain to wipe out half his people, I thought about what such a person might look like in the real world: watching a country show at a midwestern casino, or tryout pitching for an American League team years after having lit up the marquees. Finally, I wrote the title track, which felt like a drawing-together of the themes in play: rebellion against irresistible tides, the lush vistas of decay, necessary alliances. I am earnestly hoping that a new genre called “dragon noir” will spring from the forehead of nearly two years’ work on these songs, but, if not, I am content for this to be the sole example of the style.
The Mountain Goats—songwriter and guitarist Darnielle, drummer Jon Wurster, bassist Peter Hughes and multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas—recorded In League With Dragons at Nashville’s Blackbird Studios with engineer Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price, Jason Isbell, John Prine). The album features additional vocal arrangements by Robert Bailey and strings by Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra.
The Mountain Goats kick off their recently announced North American tour on their album’s release day, April 26, starting with a show at Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club before making nearly 40 headlining stops, concluding their run at the Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas on Sept. 18. You can see their complete itinerary here.
Listen to “Younger” below, along with a 2008 Mountain Goats performance from the Paste archives, and find the details of In League With Dragons further down. You can preorder the album here?.
In League With Dragons Tracklist:
01. Done Bleeding
03. Passaic 1975
04. Clemency for the Wizard King
05. Possum by Night
06. In League with Dragons
07. Doc Gooden
08. Going Invisible 2
09. Waylon Jennings Live!
10. Cadaver Sniffing Dog
11. An Antidote for Strychnine
12. Sicilian Crest
In League With Dragons Album Art: