Is it wrong to want bands to stay broke? To wish that they would keep recording on shitty four-tracks and never upgrade? We Shall All Be Healed is good. We'll give it that. John Darnielle is a talented lyricist and vocalist; all the fancy new equipment in the world won't change that. In fact, we'll be adding a handful of songs from the album to our next Mountain Goats compilation CD. (And you can bet your bottom dollar that the hilariously titled "Pigs That Ran Straightaway into the Water, Triumph Of" will be on it.) But even though We Shall All Be Healed is smarter, more inspiring, and more sincere than the average indie album, it still sounds like an average indie album. Remember Nine Black Poppies, when the Goats recorded backup vocals over the telephone? The band has traveled far since those days, but Darnielle hasn't signed his herd membership papers just yet. Two things save him on that front: He still has the gall to mention depressing things like intensive-care units in the opening lines of his songs, and he still hasn't established an official Mountain Goats website. We miss the layer of sound once provided by Darnielle's gargling basement equipment, but our copy of We Shall All Be Healed is by no means for sale. -- Gina Kaufmann
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