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Album Review: The Extra Lens- Undercard by jason


The Extra Lens-Undercard. Merge, 2010.

Roughly 8 years ago, half as a joke and half in earnest, John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats) and Franklin Bruno (Nothing Painted Blue, The Mountain Goats,The Human Hearts) joined forces, grew mustaches, and released Martial Arts Weekend under the name The Extra Glenns. Since then, fans have speculated on whether the world would ever see the Glenns in action again.

The Glenns are back, minus a G and an N. Undercard by The Extra Lens manages to sound almost nothing like a Mountain Goats album. Sure, Darnielle’s unmistakable nasal tones are all over this, as well as his characteristically harsh wit, but the songs are (for the most part) lighter, happier, more playful than recent Mountain Goats releases. That’s not to say that this is a joke album. Darnielle is singing of people who have no chance of winning: adulterers, the old, the infirm, the hopeless. But there is a kind of gallows humor that rises above the resignation.

Fans of Darnielle’s early stuff will be happy to find “How I Left the Ministry” and “Rockin’ Rockin’ Twilight of the Gods” finally finding a studio release. Other highlights include “Cruiserweights,” “In Germany Before the War,” and “Adultery.” Overall, fans of either the Mountain Goats or The Extra Glenns will be pleasantly unsurprised by this album: it’s what we’ve been waiting 8 years for.

-jason

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