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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Mountain Goats
The Life of the World to Come

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

October 5, 2009
"The life of the world to come" are the last words of the Christian prayer the Nicene Creed, just before the standard obligatory "Amen," let it be done. Indie-rock outfit The Mountain Goats have borrowed the phrase for their latest full-length, an album that leans upon religious allusion and spiritual identity.

While simultaneously writing the album and dealing with the aftermath of a death, The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle performed his own biblical exegesis, using the sacred religious text as a pillar on which to support the heavy themes of his 17th album. The songs themselves, some peppered with actual Bible verse, take the names of the passages they've been inspired by, which will no doubt have his rabid cult Googling "Hebrews 11:40" like eager Sunday school kids.

The Life of the World to Come largely features acoustic guitar-piano jams, fixing in some string arrangements care of Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett. Though somewhat of a departure from his typical colorful cast of characters, the Goats' current incarnation maintains a mystical feel similar to that of last year's Heretic Pride. An allusion to Eden, "Genesis 3:23" revisits the old "you can't go home again" adage; instead of rising and falling on each refrain, a breezy Darnielle just mentions, "I used to live here." The Goats get jazzy and syncopated on "Philippians 3:20-21" and fervent with fiery conviction on "Psalm 40:2."

There are portions of the album-namely the uptempo numbers-that verge too close to the non-threatening, WOW-pop being fashioned in today's superdome churches. On "Romans 10:9," the cheery optimism of lines like, "Believe in your heart/ and confess with your lips" are well-intentioned yet feel didactic and derived from Born-Again chic. Fortunately, introspective piano-driven tunes "Genesis 30:3" and "1 John 4:16" soften the edges.

The Life of the World to Come isn't exactly a head-nodding compendium to the Good Book as much as a shoulder-shrugging desire for surrender. For some, an album with such strong religious overtones may distance those disenchanted with the church. The concept is no doubt a risky one, bringing together the holy and the secular. But it's honest. And like Darnielle's other quasi-autobiographical works, The Life of the World to Come reflects suffering and the human condition through his own coping mechanisms.

Reviewed by Lara Longo
Lara Longo is a writer and photographer from Brooklyn, NY. In 1989, Lara received her first CD player and album, Appetite for Destruction; ever since, music is something she has fawned over, hated on, and played loudly. Her work has also appeared in Relix and New York Cool. Lara’s interests include sharks, European television, and the Hammond B3 organ.

See other reviews by Lara Longo



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