Summary: The Mountain Goats’ latest album, ‘Jenny from Thebes,’ is a louder and more energetic follow-up to their beloved 2002 release, ‘All Hail West Texas.’ With the addition of a full band and new wave, folk rock, and pop influences, the album showcases a range of musical styles. Lead singer John Darnielle’s distinctive voice and narrative lyricism continue to shine, with the return of the character Jenny. This record marks a departure from Darnielle’s previous work, as he shares the spotlight with the band.
A Departure from the Original
On ‘Jenny from Thebes,’ The Mountain Goats depart from their intimate, solitary style found on ‘All Hail West Texas.’ With the help of a full band and Grammy-winning producer Trina Shoemaker, the album takes on a louder and more energetic sound.
A Musical Exploration
The album ventures into new genre territory, blending elements of new wave, folk rock, and pure pop. The inclusion of horns and piano adds depth to the music. Notably, Bully leader Alicia Bognanno contributes lush guitar sounds, and Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s provides backing vocals.
Influences and Accessibility
The diverse range of influences on ‘Jenny from Thebes’ makes it one of The Mountain Goats’ most approachable albums. The record draws inspiration from artists such as The Cars, Sufjan Stevens, and Ben Folds Five, creating a sound that wouldn’t be out of place on Broadway.
The Narrative Continues
Lead singer John Darnielle’s signature voice and narrative lyricism remain prominent on this album. The character of Jenny, who first appeared on ‘All Hail West Texas,’ returns, providing a continuation of her story. Other characters with troubled narratives also make appearances throughout the record.
A Shift in Focus
Unlike previous albums, many songs on ‘Jenny from Thebes’ do not revolve solely around Darnielle’s vocals. The band takes a more prominent role, with melodic piano and buzzing guitar driving catchy choruses. This marks a deliberate departure from Darnielle’s previous work, showcasing the band’s musical abilities.
An Artist’s Evolution
With ‘Jenny from Thebes,’ Darnielle expresses his desire to do the opposite of what he achieved on ‘All Hail West Texas.’ By sharing the spotlight with the band and embracing new musical styles, he demonstrates his evolution as an artist. Whether this represents the future sound of The Mountain Goats or a temporary detour is up to interpretation.
Tags: The Mountain Goats, Jenny from Thebes, music review, album release, sequel, intimate style, narrative lyricism, band collaboration, musical exploration, evolution