The Mountain Goats have surprise-released an EP today called Hex of Infinite Binding. "I used to release a whole bunch of EPs," singer John Darnielle says in a press release about the four new songs. "I miss the general spiritual realm of the EP and am hereby centering an intention to spend more time thereat. These songs represent, in part, the first salvo of my resolve."
This first salvo is in the same spiritual realm as the pensive, literate songwriting that's become the hallmark of the Mountain Goats, and its first three tracks feature the woodwinds, strings and other production that has come to define the band's more recent output. It includes contributions from some new collaborators, as well as longtime fellow 'Goats Matt Douglas and Jon Wurster. And though the band purposefully forewent guitars on last year's Goths, they're back on this release. The last track, "Tuscon Fog," is a home recording by Darnielle.
In writing about the EP, Darnielle reminds us — with a truly Darnielle-esque optimism — that though "only one of these songs is directly about death ... the person or persons in all these songs will someday die." One track on the EP, "Hospital Reaction Shot," is about the press conference announcing the death of Judy Garland, of whom Darnielle is a known fan. "Yet the press conference is a sham, because Judy Garland lives," Darnielle says, "as Ted Sallis lives, as do many others thought missing. They can often be found in the vortex shortly before sundown, plotting their return. We live in hope!" Thank goodness for that.