AOTY 2021

Getting Into Knives

The Mountain Goats - Getting Into Knives
Critic Score
Based on 16 reviews
2020 Ratings: #365 / 821
User Score
Based on 91 ratings
2020 Ratings: #705
Liked by 5 people
October 23, 2020 / Release Date
LP / Format
Merge / Label
Indie Folk / Genres
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American Songwriter

Getting Into Knives makes the point that The Mountain Goats are successfully finding their way to higher heights.

Over the course of 13 songs, the spell they cast confers a dark blessing that seems driven by a rare, intuitive conviction: Your shadow has something to show you.
Spectrum Culture
Rather than attempting to re-create his glory days, John Darnielle revisits and enriches them by looking at things in a new way.
Getting Into Knives makes a case that Mountain Goats' secret weapon is Danielle's rational voice. He consistently sounds like a man who has weighed every word sung.
Northern Transmissions

The thirteen tracks featured on Getting Into Knives practically beg for you to come back to them as they, quietly and calmly, unfold with greater emotional resonance with each and every listen.


Getting Into Knives is a good record for those who’ve dipped a cautious toe into the work of The Mountain Goats in the past, as well as a great revival for more hardcore fans.


To be clear, Getting Into Knives is not a COVID album. It was written and recorded just before the world crawled into quarantine, but Darnielle's intellectual curiosity and magpie tendencies represent the flitting zeitgeist of the COVID era.

FLOOD Magazine
Anyone who feared that giving Darnielle a full-time band or throwing him into the water of professional studio sessions would harm his delicate genius, or blunt his happy-idiot wisdom, or eye for storytelling, was wrong.

Getting into Knives reminds us he's at the peak of his abilities in the art of record-making, and reminds us it's possible for a band to be brilliant without a shred of arrogance.

Recorded in Memphis before lockdown, the Mountain Goats’ second album of 2020 is lush and loose, full of stories about personal fulfillment, in whatever form it takes.
The latest album from the now-four-piece delights and distresses, packed with musical flourishes and finely drawn lyrics.
A spontaneous, off-the-floor vibe that only comes from a group of musicians comfortable enough to let the song serve as the guideline, never letting ego clutter their art.
Rolling Stone

On Getting Into Knives, Darnielle shows that the Mountain Goats’ toolkit is always expanding, and his tools are getting sharper all the same.

No Ripcord

It’s an album of breezy and loose songs, quirky yet endearing instrumentations, and well-executed parody. Clearly, frontman John Darnielle and company are having a lot of fun.

Under The Radar

The album ultimately proves to be a rewarding listen with its moments of lyrical heft and genuine instrumental beauty while the full band format provides some particularly deft backing to Darnielle’s lyrical eccentricities.

Slant Magazine
The band’s uniquely existential and observational approach to rock is, for the first time, beginning to wear thin.
I've heard way more Mountain Goats albums than I would have ever imagined I would. I wouldn't describe myself as a Mountain Goats expert by any means, but I certainly have a strong concept of what makes the music of the group ticking and what makes the songwriting of John Darnielle so engulfing thirty years into his musical career. Getting Into Knives is about as Mountain Goats as it gets, and once again, perhaps it is to a fault.

Getting Into Knives is perhaps one of the oddest albums the ... read more
I’ve gone back and forth on this one a lot, sometimes considering it a really solid release, other times considering it a clunker with a few hidden gems thrown in. I’ve come to realize that the problem is that I always go into it thinking I've been unfair, because this thing is INCREDIBLY front-loaded. I mean, its three singles are all within the first four tracks.

And the quality of those first four are really something else, making you feel like you’re packed for an ... read more
I genuinely believe John Darnielle to be one of the best American songwriters of the 21st century. Almost everything I've heard of the Mountain Goats is striking enough to catch you off guard yet comforting and familiar enough to keep you returning for more. I didn't find any of that on this project, a disappointingly unmemorable slog that rarely seems confident in what it's presenting. Darnielle's songwriting feels absolutely toothless here and the band almost feels like they're aware and ... read more
Despite some moments of lyrical brilliance, Getting Into Knives feels like one of the most belabored and least organic records in The Mountain Goats' catalog: underneath these fantastic and provocative titles—and John's transportative storytelling—lies repeated instances of flat and unaffecting compositions.

We get the sense of this gap between songwriting and lyrical potential from the record's first notes on, again, the stunning title that is "Corsican Mastiff Stride"; ... read more
This is the seventh Mountain Goats record I've tried out, and there's definitely no other band I've given this much time to and still not known whether I truly like them or not. This one's not the worst, but if you're more drawn to the Mountain Goats for their whimsy, you may not find too much exciting about this album.
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Track List

  1. Corsican Mastiff Stride
  2. Get Famous
  3. Picture Of My Dress
  4. As Many Candles As Possible
  5. Tidal Wave
  6. Pez Dorado
  7. The Last Place I Saw You Alive
  8. Bell Swamp Connection
  9. The Great Gold Sheep
  10. Rat Queen
  11. Wolf Count
  12. Harbor Me
  13. Getting Into Knives

Year End Lists

#52/Under the Radar
#68/Riff Magazine
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Added on: August 10, 2020