By the time the Jesus Lizard would record its second album, Goat, the band had built a sound perfectly suited for Steve Albini’s engineering methods. Mac McNeilly’s loud, disciplined drumming worked wonders with Albini’s custom drum mikes, and the band’s unity meant live studio recording sounded infinitely better than individual tracking ever could.
It all came together on Goat, widely considered the Jesus Lizard’s best album, and quite possibly the best noise-rock album ever produced. On this album, David Yow dropped all inhibitions and began singing as violently as he had always indicated he could be. Setting the gold standard for punk wailing, Yow outdid Nick Cave on Goat, taking the reigns as the greatest, most dangerous frontman in rock ‘n’ roll of the ’90s. Unlike most rock frontmen before or since, punk or not punk, Yow regularly sang as violently as he acted.
Most of all, Goat is filled with nothing but fantastic punk songs, songs that didn’t lose any substance while still going to the noisy extremes of the best works by the so-called pigfuckers of the ’80s. In fact, there are some truly innovative songwriting ideas behind the best songs on Goat. “Nub,” the band’s best bass-and-drums track, resembles Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” stripped of any innuendo, musically or lyrically. Meanwhile, the chorus of “Mouth Breather” — “Don’t get me wrong, he’s a nice guy/ I like him just fine/ But he’s a mouth breather” — provided the definitive line for all young cynics, one that had been thought at every party probably since the very first party was thrown, but a line that had never been express in rock vocals until it came spewing out of Yow’s mouth.