The Mountain Goats get vengeful on their new single, “Mark on You.” A cinematic fantasy inspired by action movies from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, the song is the final release from their forthcoming album, Bleed Out, out Aug. 19 via Merge Records. An album that’s intentionally a little rough around the edges, singer/songwriter John Darnielle called in Bully’s Alicia Bognanno to produce the record.
Following in the footsteps of “Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome,” the track has a dexterity that feels like a high-speed chase, the nimble riffs putting the pedal to the metal and narrowly avoiding a collision. The influence of films like the French thriller Mesrine or the 1974 mad-scientist flick The Freakmaker appears in the unanticipated turns the song takes, an element of surprise that feels more like a break in sustained tension than a jump scare. Darnielle takes the familiar tropes he found comfort in throughout quarantine and twists them into his own nail-biting storyline, complete with the vaguely menacing final warning, “It’s going to get so dark for you / I’m going to leave a mark on you.”
“‘Mark on You’ was the point where I knew where I was going in the writing of the album: songs with physical situations and palpable threats, something visceral for the tail end of lockdown,” Darnielle says in a statement. “Producer Alicia Bognanno ran wild on this one, one of the first ones I sent her; she shapes the sound with an intensely sick riff over the chorus, teasing out the extensions and expanding the blasting surface. Sickest Wurster beat, all pocket no seams.”
The Mountain Goats will kick off their full-band U.S. tour late in August, with Europe and U.K. shows in November. You can purchase tickets here.
Check out “Mark on You” below, plus a 2009 Mountain Goats performance from the Paste archives, and revisit our ranking of every Mountain Goats album.