The Mountain Goats

Nine Black Poppies

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The Mountain Goats' Shrimper tapes have their obscure charms, but there is something to be said for accessibility too, and Nine Black Poppies offers both. This nine-song mini-album has a few home recordings, starting with the opening track, "Cubs in Five" (which could be the Extra Glenns except it's Peter Hughes, not Franklin Bruno, joining in on the chorus), and the obligatory Casio song, "Pure Money." The real standouts are the studio cuts, performed with simple guitar and bass, well recorded but not bright and sterile like the Beautiful Rat Sunset EP. Of these, "I Know You've Come to Take My Toys Away," "Chanson du Bon Chose," and "Stars Fell on Alabama" are among the Mountain Goats' most pop-oriented and appealing efforts ever. The closer, "Lonesome Surprise," is a cover of a Refrigerator song with phoned-in duet vocals by Allen Callaci. Nine Black Poppies, by maintaining a high level of quality and touching upon most permutations of the Mountain Goats' sound, rates among the best of their releases and serves as an excellent introduction.

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