John Darnielle's plan is simple, but it's never easy. As drummer Jon Wurster lays down a basic, sturdy beat, Darnielle grabs an acoustic guitar or, more recently, sits at a piano and sings an easy, flowing melody with an ambush of lyrics. His nasal delivery grabs listeners with its wired intensity and teetering desperation. This time out, horns blurt during the emotionally dissonant "Cry for Judas," where sad, lost characters thrill to the joys of their mistakes and roll on with a melody that bounces along as if nothing is wrong. "Harlem Roulette" features a hook that demands to be played repeatedly, as the words speak to the past and future of loneliness. "In Memory of Satan" adds a sorrowful orchestration. The lumbering beats of "Until I Am Whole" pull through an existential crisis that's always on the verge. "Night Light" plays the urgent end of a film plot; it's far from the exultation of the album's opening track, "Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1," where Darnielle encourages the masses to "do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive."