Mountain Goats auteur John Darnielle might be the finest lyricist of his generation. In terse, powerful portraits of characters who reveal more than they say, he has surveyed lowlifes and tweakers, compared a fraught relationship with a Louisiana graveyard where nothing stays buried, and described a pair of enamored teens as twin high-maintenance machines. While working as a psychiatric nurse, Darnielle recorded his first seven albums on a boombox; this helped him focus on the lyrics and make the music urgent. Since signing to 4AD for 2002's extraordinary tale of married, self-negating alcoholics, Tallahassee, his subsequent six albums have enriched the music to match the songs' lyrical power. His latest, Life of the World to Come, employs biblical verses as inspiration for crisply sketched modern parables.