May 09, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
We gave it a B

Mountain Goats auteur John Darnielle continues to write songs that could inspire a season’s worth of TV-movie melodramas on The Sunset Tree: Here, he recalls an abusive stepfather, self-destructive teen years, and other dysfunctional-family horrors. He sometimes wastes these tales on coy indie-folk, but when he cuts to the bone — as on ”Dilaudid,” where sawing, relentless strings accompany a vague, creepy story of sex and the apocalypse — the results can be extraordinary. Get the man an orchestra, now.

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