After the life-affirming The Sunset Tree, I’m not sure how Get Lonely can be viewed as anything but a disappointment. The thing is, it shouldn’t be. Like their previous album, there’s a clear concept tying this one together – whereas The Sunset Tree dealt with John Darnielle’s abusive stepfather, these songs are about the aftermath of a breakup. Unfortunately, the music isn’t there. Not only is there a lack of discernible melodies, there’s also a regression in arrangements. Most of this stuff is slow, spare, sparse, stark, simple, etc. with the exception of “New Monster Avenue” with its anxious percussion (an obvious highlight). Moreover, while there was fight and escape inThe Sunset Tree, John Darnielle resigns to defeat in Get Lonely – apt title. In other words, whereas the narrator of The Sunset Treewanted to live, I’m not so sure about the one on Get Lonely; he speaks softly instead of sings, he’s in falsetto more than he should be. It’s almost as if to say one of the greatest poets of the new millenium’s advice to breakups is that “it sucks.” Well, gee, thanks.
Of course, Darnielle being Darnielle, some of his observations feel too real: “Wake Up New” is the best song here from a lyrical perspective, where Darnielle wakes up the morning after, begins talking to himself (because he’s not used to the deafening silence), brews too much coffee (because he’s used to sharing it) and has to wear a sweater and turn on the heater (because he doesn’t have someone to cuddle with). But the acoustic guitar just strums a basic pattern while a keyboard just plinks away at the same three notes. I’m empathetic, but I want catharsis. I suppose it isn’t surprising when you learn that while The Sunset Tree was born out of his father’s then-recent death, John Darnielle had been happily married for years when he released Get Lonely.