• Record Label: 4AD
  • Release Date: Feb 19, 2008

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. It all adds up to The Mountain Goats’ most musically sophisticated endeavor to date. In fact, the music is finally beginning to hold its own with the lyrics.
  2. Disjointed maybe, obtuse certainly, but listening to this album is continuously rewarding, new images, new storylines, and new moments of disbelief at Darnielle's lyricism on every listen.
  3. One day, Darnielle might make a sub-par Mountain Goats record. Pride certainly isn't it. [Apr 2008, p.152]
  4. This is not just music that I believe, in the sense that it is credible, but this is music to believe in.
  5. Bolstered by the sound of a full band, with Heretic Pride Darnielle has created one of his best releases yet.
  6. One wonders whether 4AD has thrown his critical followers off with its line about how this one abandons autobiography for "mythical creatures" etc.
  7. It’s the crafting of timeless, crest-fallen melodies infused with gripping characterisations that elevates Darnielle into the upper-crust of musical virtuosity. And that’s exactly where Heretic Pride leaves him: perched atop the pile of today’s try-hardy singer/songwriters.
  8. Pretty much all John Darnielle's songs sound the same, but that sameness affords a remarkable consistency.
  9. Darnielle's characters are back where they know best.
  10. Where Heretic Pride succeeds is in variety. We never see the same mania twice, never repeat the same angle.
  11. Darnielle can sometimes be too clever, loading in more than a song can bear, but he keeps that tendency in check for the most part on Heretic Pride, and the result is a wonderfully accessible and varied album that hits all the right buttons at all the right times.
  12. 80
    This batch of tunes is still suffused with the confessional vibe that made "The Sunset Tree" and "Get Lonely" unlikely emo-folk touchstones. [Mar 2008, p.98]
  13. Anyone who has surmounted that hurdle will be delighted to discover that the album represents business as usual: 13 absorbing songs, sparingly orchestrated to concentrate attention on the lyrics.
  14. These succinct, sparse vignettes could double as short stories, Darnielle's evocative imagery giving the likes of 'San Bernardino' a cinematic feel. [Mar 2008, p.108]
  15. Complex and worth repeated listens? Hell yeah.
  16. Heretic Pride is a stunning, well-rounded piece of music that only The Mountain Goats could pull off.
  17. Heretic Pride lifts those shadows--it's the most optimistic Mountain Goats record yet. It’s uplifting and soulful, genuine and sophisticated--full of tender moments enhanced by remarkably pretty melodies and arrangements.
  18. While the cellos of 'San Bernardino' are sublime, many of Heretic's opaque lyrics are buried under prettified blandness. [29 Feb 2008, p.61]
  19. While he looses some duds ("New Zion," "So Desperate," and "How to Embrace a Swamp Creature" are skippable) and a set of slightly duller lyrics, the conceits of the songs—the central images of good floundering in an evil world, of contented monsters, of the naiveté of the faithful—serve to substantiate the album as a whole more than any one line, verse, or song does.
  20. This is business as usual: string-laced Americana that ranks alongside other literate types such as The Shins or Midlake.
  21. The music often verges on innocuous, but it serves its purpose as a backdrop for Darnielle’s steadily churning imagination.
  22. Darnielle's increasing love of full band arrangements--which aren't memorable--pushes him perilously close to earning the "soft rock' label. [Winter 2008, p.83]
  23. As interesting as Heretic Pride already is, it misses an opportunity to pick one direction or the other.
  24. 60
    Darnielle dresses songs of romance, heartache, and travel in elegant leaps of language. [Mar 2008, p.96]
  25. 60
    With drums, strings, pianos, amps and backup singers, this is the biggest sounding record ever for a band that used to consist of one guy on acoustic guitar. [Apr 2008, p.81]
  26. Without the gripping autobiographical elements of recent Mountain Goats releases (or the tape hiss of the band's lo-fi days) to justify them, Darnielle's idiosyncratic, occasionally annoying vocals and elementary folk melodies fall a little flat.
  27. 52
    While there's magic in Darnielle's always-blissful eye for detail--takes the kaleidoscopic, blood-red sun on 'San Bernadino'--far too often the album works up a head of steam only to wander into unflattering territory. [Winter 2008, p.95]
  28. The lack of the sort of overarching theme that powered previous discography standouts 'Tallahassee' and 'The Sunset Tree' through their dull bits means that these moments rob the record of a lot of momentum and goodwill.
  29. 40
    The polished arrangements of Heretic Pride do Darnielle's songwriting no favours. [Mar 2008, p.106]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. SteveO.
    Apr 11, 2008
    Cool voice but it CAN get a little annoying... good songwriters though... its a good album overall.
  2. MichaelE.
    Mar 4, 2008
    This is a fantastic album. I listen to it again and again. It´s interesting what happens when the Mountain Goats do an album that does This is a fantastic album. I listen to it again and again. It´s interesting what happens when the Mountain Goats do an album that does not fit into their "image". A lot of critics can´t respond to it. And, most important: though it´s a kind of fun album, it has a broad emotional palette as well. And deeply touching songs. Breathtaking! Full Review »
  3. JackB.
    Feb 28, 2008
    break away from the personal and back toward classic outward storytelling.