The string section driving “Age of Kings” realizes the great noir that has always lurked in the best work of John Darnielle and whatever compatriots currently make up the Mountain Goats. Here’s he’s sticking with Jon Wurster on drums and Peter Hughes on bass. His sizable and solid catalog makes it hard to single out any one album as the definitive one. It all plays together as one grand song, with concepts coming and going in the interim. 2011’s All Eternals Deck adds strings and a new tightness in the arrangements. Even Darnielle’s guitar sounds deliberately measured, locking in with the rhythm section. As per usual, the songs are filled with juicy details, punch lines and sly references to previous work. All of which makes each album a deep listen for hardcore fans. However, the basic joyful accessibility of “Beautiful Gas Mask” is one for the ages and no previous experience is required. “High Hawk Season” adds a male back-up choir. “Prowl Great Cain” throws a pretty piano against Darnielle’s adenoidal delivery. Can anyone resist a song called “For Charles Bronson”?