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“Cadaver Sniffing Dog” is quite possibly the most “The Mountain Goats” Mountain Goats song yet. A four-minute track describing a grizzly crime scene, which frontman John Darnielle reports is “a metaphor for a relationship in which there is nothing whatsoever left to salvage,” it is the second single from their tabletop RPG-inspired album In League with Dragons. Along with the song, the band announced a stop at Union Transfer July 19th, 2019.

“Cadaver Sniffing Dog” diverges from the sound of their most recent album, Goths, and touches closer to 2011’s All Eternals Deck or 2012’s Transcendental Youth. Darnielle’s acoustic guitar is coupled with an electric, played by Matt Douglas, while strings underlay the entire thing, barely audible at times but swelling during the chorus. The bridge features a sharper guitar solo than is typical for the group, but the bones of the song are classic Mountain Goats.

Darnielle writes in a press release, “My records indicate that I wrote ‘Cadaver Sniffing Dog’ on Christmas Day, 2017, which probably tells you more about me than the song itself could ever hope to.” It’s a little darker than one might expect from a Christmas song, however, Darnielle singing, “Stray clumps of hair and blood and brain / Fragments of bone in the drain / Rookies trying to keep the airway clear / But the damage is too severe.” The chorus is punctuated with Jon Wurster’s drum fills, and one can hear the drama behind the scene. Less like a fantasy-RPG and closer to the first few minutes of an episode of CSI, it brings into question what stories the rest of the album will tell.

In League with Dragons is out 4/26 on Merge Records. Tickets for The Mountain Goats at Union Transfer 7/19 are on sale this Friday (but keep an eye out for a pre-sale code), more info here.