Like the previous An Arrow Through the Bitch, The Mountain EP compiles a pair of Palace singles for U.K. audiences. The title cut was the first and only Palace single to also appear on a proper album, in this case the brilliant Viva Last Blues -- strangely, it's perhaps the weakest song on the LP, and consequently the least-effective single Will Oldham had yet released. Beginning with the inexplicable couplet, "If I could f*ck a mountain/Lord, I would f*ck a mountain," the song's weirdly jaunty melody quickly grows tedious, and although on the LP it serves as part of a much bigger picture, when stripped of its proper context it's completely lifeless. Much better is the flip side, "(End Of) Travelling," which complements one of Oldham's most passionate vocals with a swooning pedal steel lead. On the other hand, the "Gulf Shores"/"West Palm Beach" single, first issued on Drag City a year earlier, remains perhaps the loveliest moment in the Palace canon, boasting a languid, doleful beauty calling to mind slowcore acts like Red House Painters. Couched by shimmering, ringing guitars and jazz-like drums, Oldham evokes the stark desolation of off-season Florida tourist traps also brought memorably to life in Victor Nunez's brilliant film Ruby in Paradise -- though their titles may suggest something closer to Jimmy Buffett singalongs, both "Gulf Shores" and "West Palm Beach" capture the artifice and loneliness of tropical life with poignant accuracy.
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny