Everyone’s favorite band they don’t want to admit they listen to is back with a surprise EP, released just weeks ago. Only a band with a following like the Mountain Goats’ could pull that off—and why shouldn’t they? They’ve been around for a long time, have a cult-like following, and everyone—everyone—has to admit that “No Children” is one of the most emotionally cutting songs of all time.
In “Hex of Infinite Binding,” John Darnielle’s slightly unsettling yet oddly comforting charm pulls the listener in immediately. However, the EP as a whole feels a lot like something a mom would listen to. Individually, the songs are an interesting bunch. “Song for Ted Sallis” introduces the typical Mountain Goats introspective drama, but with added woodwinds. “Ted Sallis” and “Almost Every Door” feel like Guillermo del Toro’s Pan or the Cenobites from “Hellraiser” could jump out at any moment. Without the lyrical content, “Hospital Reaction Shot” would be just another poppy ballad. “Tucson Fog” is the most “traditional” Mountain Goats song, so for longtime fans, it’ll definitely be a favorite. It sounds like a Hozier-esque witch performing a spell crafted on the fly.
Maybe the album does exactly what the title says: hex the listener into being infinitely bound to the Mountain Goats. Or maybe it just reflects the air of magic and myth in these tunes. Either way, this EP’s title is one of the best things about it. Everything else the Mountain Goats has done slaps, but “Hex of Infinite Binding” is definitely one of their more mediocre releases.