'Transcendental Youth' is The Mountain Goats' fourteenth album in eighteen years since their 1994 debut 'Zopilote Machine' and on the evidence available here they're in no danger of running out of steam anytime soon. Front man John Darnielle sure enough knows how to craft a good tune and there are a round dozen new ones in this collection.
From the staccato rattle and crash of splendid opening number 'Amy aka Spent Gladiator 2'; through the clipped observational lyrics and melancholy melody of 'Lakeside View Apartments Suite'; 'Cry For Judas' with its rich brass decorations and deliciously shuffling rhythm; to the bristling urgency of 'Night Light' and the tender but uplifting final track 'Transcendental Youth', Mr Darnielle steers his ship through richly imaginatively musical territory with a steady hand and his distinctive and beguiling nasal tremolo as intact as it ever was.
With so many good songs on offer its terribly hard to pick a winner but (for now) my money's on the upbeat 'The Diaz Brothers', as tight and energetic an invention as any of the best in this fine band's repertoire.
The Mountain Goats are still at the top of their game. Long may they prosper!
I always wonder if John Darnielle will one day run out of steam after so many albums of good songs. I shouldn't have worried. This is one of his best ever. The songs are powerful as always and the brass arrangements add a real musical depth.It grabs you from the first and just goes on getting better, along with Dylan's Tempest and the new Andrew Bird CDs this is an album of the year for me.
This record changed my life. I was working as a fish counter salesman, my life going absolutely nowhere. I had no hopes, dreams, aspirations or ambition. I was an alcoholic( 55 cans of lager a day!), heroin and crack addict and my wife had left me for another man (I walked in on him doing his business on her thigh). Life just seemed too much to deal with and so I considered suicide. One day I decided to go out and buy some quail soup from the local super-shop and I stumbled upon a record store. Subsequently, I decided to enter. What I found in there changed me for the better. It was Transcendental Youth by the Mountain Goats. I bought the record and rushed home to listen to it. At first listen I was unimpressed, however, with the second listen, something happened to me. I started to feel nauseous and suddenly I vomited up my quail soup all over my vinyl player. That night, I went to bed feeling extremely ill. The next morning I felt much better; energetic and ready to take on the world! On a whim, I decided that that day, I would give all of my months earnings to the local homeless man, who lived by my local super-shop. Needless to say, I was left with no money and nearly died of hunger, having no earnings to pay for food, but that's not the point. I felt good about myself. I stopped drinking, smoking crack and injecting golden brown and instead, took up aerobics and yoga, spending my free time pruning my garden and drinking herbal tea. In short, I was a goody goody, a real law-abiding citizen. I quit my job at the fish counter, finally losing it with my manager, who had been bossing me around for the past 24 years. I told him he could 'shove his job right up his fish loving anus', smashing the counter with a sledge-hammer I had picked up from tescos the day before. Overall, life seemed better and I can only attribute the gain in quality to this beautiful album from John himself.
In general, I find a couple of good tracks on an album. This one has the first track - 'Amy aka spent gladiator' - and the stupendous 'Harlem roulette', which I just cannot get out of my head (and it's been at least a month now). I will be getting more Mountain Goats albums.