The Sunset Tree is a sparkling addition to The Mountain Goats's musical career. Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist/Pianist John Darnielle (pronounced DARN-KNEEL) along with bassist/back-up singer Peter Hughes, focuses on Darnielle's youth growing up in a household with an abusive stepfather and his drug addiction.
The album includes Darnielle's most well-known song, "This Year", with the chorus "I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me"(Darnielle, This Year), and also includes "Dance Music" where Darnielle tells the story of two periods in his life: when he was "five years old or six maybe" (Darnielle, Dance Music), and listening to what he describes as dance music to escape the sounds of his stepfather, and when he is seventeen, his life nearly gone down the drain, with the "last best thing I've got going" (Darnielle, Dance Music) being eaten away by the "special sequence sickness" (Darnielle, Dance Music, waiting for the police to arrest him for drug posession, again listening to dance music.
In "Love, Love, Love" Darnielle describes the things you do for love, with the famous line, "Raskolnikov felt sick/but he couldn't tell you why" (Darnielle, Love, Love, Love" as the killer sees his reflection in his victim's eye.
Another one of my personal favorites from the album is "Up the Wolves" a story about Remus and Romulus, the two fictional wolves who founded Rome, but tells about overcoming abandonment.
The album closes with "Pale Green Things", a song recalling the time he went to the racetrack with his stepfather, the last line of the album telling how he found out about his stepfather's death.
The album is an emotional rollercoaster, and a perfect introduction to the magical world of The Mountain Goats. You won't hear them on the radio, but with over six hundred songs, you'll surely find one that relates to you.