The Mountain Goats
Transcendental Youth


4.5
superb

Review

by MagmaWalrus USER (10 Reviews)
September 24th, 2012 | 43 replies | 4,802 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The freshest, most well crafted Mountain Goats album in years.

9 of 9 thought this review was well written

The Mountain Goats have had a productive career. Although 20 years is by no means a short period of time, for a band that for the most part consisted of just one man, more than 400 songs is a lot. It wasn’t just that there was always a steady supply of new music coming in that attracted listeners to The Mountain Goats; it was the creeping sense of dread in every song, the sincerity in both John Darnielle’s lyrics and vocals and the emotional impact of almost every line. By understanding what they do best, The Mountain Goats have been able to not only release music consistently, but to consistently release good music, and Transcendental Youth does the same.

Despite the fact that they aren’t trying to do anything vastly different this time around, Transcendental Youth stands out among the many other Mountain Goats albums because it sounds so fresh. Although John is writing lyrics the way he always has, they seem stronger and more fully thought out. Although the guitar playing isn’t much more complex than it was last year or 10 years before that, it seems to serve every song better. Even though their discography is expansive and spans across 2 decades, Transcendental Youth feels like a band just now discovering what they can really do, and because of that it’s more engaging and more memorable.

A large part of this fresh sound is due to the added instrumentation. On several tracks John is accompanied by a full horn section, a decision that had potential to go wrong but luckily only adds to the power of the album. Because part of what makes Mountain Goats music so listenable and addictive is the sense of intimacy created by just a man and a guitar, this new approach could have ended up taking away from these songs and instead served as a distraction. Luckily though, it simply adds to them, allowing them to breathe and in many cases, allowing them to build. The climax of “White Cedar” for example is one of the most impactful sections of any Mountain Goats song to date, and “Cry For Judas” actually relies on the orchestral instruments for a large part of its melody, and combined with some strong lyrics we’re left with one of the album’s highlights. This new sound is makes every song a little deeper but also makes them more accessible, a mix that works exceptionally well.

Lyrics have always been an important part of Mountain Goats songs. They’re what make nearly every single one so powerful, and fortunately the lyrics on this album are arguably stronger than they’ve ever been. It was said that the album would have a strong focus on “outcasts, recluses, the mentally ill and others struggling in ordinary society” and it shows. It seems that this theme is something John is passionate about, and because of that he sounds interested and enthusiastic in every song. In “Cry For Judas” he sings “We are the ones who don’t slow down at all, and there’s nobody there to catch us when we fall.” In “White Cedar” he sings “I’ll be reborn, someday someday, if I wait long enough.” John sounds more confident now than ever, and as a whole the band sounds more focused.

There are several things that make Transcendental Youth a superb album, but what stands out the most is the fact that it sounds so new while doing very little to create that sound. In other words, it’s effortlessly excellent. If it hadn’t been decided before, this album solidifies The Mountain Goats’ position as one of the most consistent bands around today, regardless of how they achieve that consistency. They’ve also now mastered the art of finding the perfect balance between introducing new elements and keeping familiar ones, and it seems that at this point it would be impossible for them to make an album that’s even average, let alone bad. The Mountain Goats have had a long career, and this album feels less like just another part of that career, but more like the beginning of a new one.



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3.8
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other reviews of this album
Channing Freeman STAFF (4.5)
We shall all be......

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An achievement in pacing and cohesion above all else....

famethrowa (4.5)
With Transcendental Youth, growth proves exponential. John Darnielle has stepped up his game and cre...


Comments:Add a Comment 
MagmaWalrus
September 24th 2012



236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I've been waiting for a stream for a while now so I could post this. Here it is:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/album-premiere-the-mountain-goats-transcendental-youth-20120924

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
September 24th 2012



15800 Comments


Bit wordy in places but a good read, pos'd and will listen.

Digging: Synaesthesia (UK) - Synaesthesia

ton_ey
September 24th 2012



2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Been waiting to hear some opinions on this for awhile. Nice review.

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2012



3347 Comments


Can we get some mod on the "SonicsBitch" account? The comments are even stupider than mine are.

Nice review, have a pos. Mountain Goats have never been my thing but I may give this a go soon.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
September 24th 2012



23798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

omg reviews for new Menomena and Mountain Goats back to back. will read.

RosaParks
September 24th 2012



14592 Comments


The freshest, most well crafted Mountain Goats album since the last Mountain Goats album.


fixed

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
September 24th 2012



23798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

really good review man I agree with all of it. this is their best work since The Sunset Tree probably. "Lakeside View Apartments Suite" is amazing, it's quickly climbing up my list of favourite tmg songs.

piglets
September 24th 2012



49 Comments


album is 2 good

MagmaWalrus
September 24th 2012



236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

(to Rosaparks) that's probably true. I should have said it's the best thing they've done in a year.

InFiction
September 24th 2012



3639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album rules.

Digging: Braid - No Coast

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2012



4383 Comments


This sounds pretty interesting. I'll have to check it out. POS'd.

YoYoMancuso
September 24th 2012



10889 Comments


I need to get more into this band, what I've heard of them is tremendous. Good review by the way, you got a pos from me

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
September 24th 2012



23798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

such a rewarding discography to get into. he has so much fucking music but the overwhelming majority is awesome, and some of it is god-tier

cb123
September 24th 2012



1994 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

on my to-do list, absolutely adore the mountain goats

CaptainDooRight
September 25th 2012



28355 Comments


The two tracks I just listened to we're pretty meh so I really don't get the high ratings for this.

Digging: Tukaaria - Raw to the Rapine

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
September 25th 2012



23798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

have you ever listened to The Mountain Goats before?

Ire
September 25th 2012



41749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

tryna look cool for kill n sonic probs



dam
dam
dam

Spec
September 25th 2012



27062 Comments


so good

piglets
September 25th 2012



49 Comments


bst lbm since th last 1 mebeh?

cb123
September 25th 2012



1994 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"bst lbm since th last 1 mebeh?"

fckn sh1t is ths?



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