Goat – Requiem (Sub Pop)

Goat - Requiem (Sub Pop, 2016)From their debut with World Music (2012), the mysterious Swedish cult collective Goat have remained anonymous, hidden behind masks and tall tales of their origins. A mix of psychedelic rock, Afrobeat and other folk music was a winning formula on their debut, which translated to a colorful, danceable live show. Commune (2014) attempted to fine tune their style into something darker and heavier, which worked at times. However they have the same issue that a seemingly very different artist, M.I.A. has, in that they rely too much on their magpie cultural cannibalism, and not enough on songwriting craft. Both artists have yet to make a consistently great album, and both are now floundering a bit.

On their third album Requiem, they revert to a more folk based sound that seems to be meant to be more celebratory than sinister, but is kind of a mess. At over 63 minutes it’s by far their longest album, and it feels like it, with a significant portion of meandering filler. Incorporating influences from the Master Magicians of Jajouka and Peruvian pan-pipes is all well and good, but they don’t really add value to the band’s repertoire. The Eastern style percussion and melodies of “Try My Robe” are more successful, locking into one of the band’s more convincing grooves. Continuing the title theme of “Goatman,” “Goathead,” “Goatlord” and “Goatchild,” “Goatband” leads you to a pretty mesmerizing trance. However if you recognize the bassline from “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” it’s hard not to be distracted. Guitars are used sparingly, with a nice solo near the end of “Alarms,” and at their heaviest on the appropriately titled “Goatfuzz.”

While it’s their least consistent album, there’s plenty here to enjoy for fans, and I don’t doubt they can still translate it to a captivating live show.

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