Admittedly, there's no way I can really be objective about this kind of thing. The Mountain Goats have consistently been my favorite band since freshman year of high school. Throw in some piano, light drums, a glockenspiel, some chick I've never heard of, and something about video games, alright dude, I'm sold.
Darnielle's emotive, brazen voice (aka "too whiney," according to some people) has a great way of highlighting his heartfelt lyrics. The song is written from Toad's perspective, while he waits in a castle dungeon for Mario, only to tell him the inevitable, heartbreaking line of the song's title. It's like Darnielle took this totally mundane video game moment, and gave it the emotional complexity and beauty of that scene in the Royal Tennenbaums when Margot gets off the bus to meet Richie. "I kept my hat on just for luck/ sang simple tunes the whole night through/ I wondered if I'd wake to find myself in flames/ as I waited here for you"
It seems like Darnielle sort of has a knack for the whole writing-songs-that-make-sincere-emotional-moments-from-unexpected-places thing. On the album "The Coroner's Gambit" there's a song called "Seneca's Trick Mirror" about Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher and writer, and his relationship with Nero, and on "Beautiful Rat Sunset," there's "Song for Cleomenes" about Gaius Verres' rule of Sicily. History has never been so folk-pop!
Anyways, a final really interesting thing to note about the song is not only is it written from Toad's POV, but the song is being sung to Mario, not the Princess, as the Pitchfork review sort of seems to suggest in its cheesy, stupid wrap up joke.
"Just when my solitude was closing in/ I heard a howl like screeching tires/ and I told you the one thing I know how to say/ to the bright ringing drone of 8-bit choirs/ Yeah when you came in/ I could breathe again"