After working as a sound engineer for "In League With Dragons" in 2019, Matt Ross-Spang suggested to TMG mastermind John Darnielle that he send the entire Mountain Goats band to Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis, Tennessee for the next album. This in turn led to the decision to promote Matt Ross-Spang to producer for the follow-up
Recorded in a single week with "magic" microphones salvaged from the Nashville Network and in the same room where the Cramps recorded their 1980 debut album, the immediacy of "Getting Into Knives" burns bright in desperate contradiction. On "The Last Place I Saw You Alive," Darnielle describes the darkness of knowing that you will never see a loved one again, and even the potential for hope is undermined. "Us worms turn into butterflies, I guess", he sings about the heart-rending sincerity that resounds over a ringing piano half a second after the realization that worms are not caterpillars
Elsewhere, "Wolf Count" arouses sympathy for a hunted wolf, despite the wolf's dreams of a good old bloodbath. "Everything becomes a blur from six feet away," sings Darnielle in "Tidal Wave." Years before the concern about "social distancing" became a constant topic of conversation, the song insists instead that not every wave is a tidal wave. "Some waves are slow things that cover you without you having noticed," explains Darnielle. But even this somewhat gloomy perspective has its consolation. "With the album, you either slam the door shut or you open on to the next path," explains Darnielle. "The trick is to sew up an ending, but at the same time open the doors to the theater and let the sunlight in."
Albums like "Getting Into Knives" sweeps everyone out that door and into the middle of a huge sea. With songs like these you might dive into ink-like depths or achieve a purifying breath of air. Songs that illuminate despite the inevitability of loss.