John Darnielle's shift toward autobiography on the Mountain Goats' last two albums, 2004's We Shall All Be Healed and last year's The Sunset Tree, is often cited as just the latest step away from his early aesthetic. The gritty sound of his boom-box recordings has been replaced by expert studio production from the likes of John Vanderslice and Scott Solter, and his trademark "alpha couple" and "Going to" song series are gone in favor of deftly limned stand-alone narratives. But Darnielle never stopped thinking conceptually, and the new Get Lonely (4AD)--where he's backed once again by bassist Peter Hughes and longtime sideman Franklin Bruno on piano, among others--may be his peak in this regard. Its stories of pain and loss are informed by his earlier song cycles, and though the songs are apparently fictive this time around, they feel startlingly intimate after his recent memoirish incursions. The dark tone of the album can be a bit unrelenting, but the careful balance of warmth and desolation is the mark of a die-hard conceptualist. Christine Fellows opens. Sat 9/16, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $14.