The Mountain Goats – In League with Dragons
With the release of the Dungeons & Dragons movie this week, I thought it might be a great time to highlight The Mountain goats 17th album, In League with Dragons. Inspired by tabletop games like D&D, In League with Dragons incorporates a lot of fantasy references as well as references to playing these types of games, wrapped up in an incredibly lush presentation. Every track is chock full of interesting lyrics and diverse instrumentation that together build a very full-bodied listening experience. John Darnielle’s full-band albums are obviously going to be much bigger sounding than his lo-fi solo efforts, but Dragons is possibly his most sonically dense effort to date. This is accomplished not only by choice use of strings/horns/etc., but even the “simple” songs sound HUGE with some expert use of reverb, giving them something of an ethereal quality. It’s an excellent example of songcraft and production and well worth repeated listens.
With a band as prolific as The Mountain Goats, it’s hard to pick a jumping on point. There are so, so many excellent albums to choose from. But I feel In League with Dragons is one of the most fun albums John and the group have released. This makes sense because of the reference material for the album. Something as fun and social as tabletop gaming requires a joyful and rich listening experience. In League with Dragons more than delivers this and is a great place to start if you’re looking to take a deep-dive into the cavernous collection of Mountain Goats music.