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    Maybe you are just like John Darnielle: In the depths of the pandemic winter at the end of 2020, the Mountain Goats frontman passed the time trapped at home in North Carolina watching pulpy action movies, finding comfort in familiar tropes and sofabound escapism. But you are not really like John Darnielle, unless the action movies you found comfort in included French thrillers like 2008’s Mesrine, vintage Italian poliziotteschi, or the 1974 Donald Pleasence mad-scientist vehicle The Freakmaker. Or unless watching them brought you back to your formative days as an artist, when watching films fueled and soundtracked your songwriting jags and bare-bones home recordings and in turn inspired your 20th album to be a song cycle about the allure—and futility—of vengeance. Bleed Out is a cinematic experience unto itself. One song about preparing to exact bloody revenge begat another song about the act of exacting bloody revenge and then more songs about and the causes and the aftermath of being driven to exact bloody revenge, each delivered with the urgency and desperation deserving of their narrators and circumstances. Just as Getting Into Knives and Dark in Here—recorded in Memphis and Muscle Shoals, respectively, in the first two weeks of March 2020, just before such a thing would become impossible—were heavily informed and influenced by their historic settings, Bleed Out is all pent-up energy and explosion, executed by a bunch of friends who were mainly happy to be in a room together making loud noises. In January 2021, just weeks after Darnielle had started writing, his bandmates Peter Hughes, Matt Douglas, and Jon Wurster joined him at a studio in the woods near his home in Chapel Hill. Everything was finished inside a week.

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