John Darnielle, founder of The Mountain Goats, has no real analogue in British music culture. He's a gifted composer, lyricist and novelist. His latest book, Universal Harvester, became a New York Times Bestseller and attracted critical acclaim for its mysterious, religious and multi-generational themes and Midwest setting. He's less a grizzled raconteur in the Waitsian mould, more a professional storyteller. No longstanding fan of The Mountain Goats is going to be very surprised that their chief poet successfully transitioned into prose fiction. The band's output has always luxuriated in perfectly crafted lyrics, and the sheer volume of work Darnielle has pushed out since his first studio album proper, 1994's Zopilote Machine, suggests that moving to long-form wasn’t going to be an issue.

Adherence to quality control, then, is the true test. And while it's true that not every Mountain Goats album can be called essential, there's almost always a sprinkling of inspired moments within. Most British listeners might have first encountered Darnielle's genius through the Rough Trade Counter Culture collection of 2002, and the unusually dyspeptic ‘See America Right’ from that year's Tallahassee. The record, released by 4AD, also boasts the heart-breaking ‘Idylls of The King’. Seek it out.

Sorry to keep putting off actually talking about Goths, their latest collection, but there's a ton of stuff to catch up on first. The aforementioned Tallahassee was the first album to feature Peter Hughes, the other most obviously integral member of the Goats, and marked the beginning of their current, full band incarnation - however many members have subsequently come and gone. That's fifteen years in the second distinct career phase alone.

Goths picks up where their last album, 2015's wrestling concept album Beat The Champ left off. There is brass; lots of brass. There's giddy, Belle and Sebastian-style indie pop. There are a handful of brilliant, impossibly evocative song titles ('Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back To Leeds'; 'Unicorn Tolerance'; 'For The Portuguese Goth Metal Bands'). It's a concept album about being a young Goth, obviously; "And outside it's 92 degrees/ and KROQ is playing Siouxie and the Banshees."

'Rain In Soho' is the album's impressive curtain raiser, backed by a gospel choir, while 'Stench of the Unburied' probably the best thing on it. The music feels so personal, the tales so garishly funny, that I suspect you had to be there to be able to climb entirely on board. 'Wear Black' is a paean to doing just that, and takes the odd route of lovingly sending up Goth culture, wrapped in a middle of the road pop jacket.

If I have a criticism of Goths, it's that the subject matter does not really fit the musical stylings. Not to suggest the band were ever going to go full Bauhaus, but there's a fine line between loving parody and blithely arch, and I'm not convinced they always successfully traverse it. Maybe other ex- (or serving) Goths will feel differently.

If you're encountering The Mountain Goats for the first time, perhaps this isn't the ideal place to begin. Saying that, their musical map is so diverse in terrain as to make travelogues pretty meaningless. I don't think anything here touches the gorgeousness of 'Southwestern Territory' from their previous work, but I'm pretty sure Darnielle has a bunch of stories still to be told.