Torch music Review

Your inside guide to what’s good and what’s just awful

The Mountain Goats – “Transcendental Youth”

The best thing about The Mountain Goats is how their music is both spontaneous and well thought out. It’s intelligent, yet down-to-earth. They continue to create such music on new album “Transcendental Youth,” yet possibly better than ever.

The result is prolificity, quality and deep-yet-simple music, a difficult fusion to find at this high of a quality. It also means that each Mountain Goats’ album feels a bit different. Each is a nice melting pot of diverse songwriting. 

Whether a short, despairing ballad with unexpected vocal effects (“Until I Am Whole”) or a quick-beated, horn-laden single (“Cry For Judas”), one never knows quite what to expect from song to song. The consistency is the song-writing quality and incredible lyrics telling an affecting story.

Delving deeper, those are two big takeaways from this–a proliferation of horns and a plethora of heavy, bleak emotion. Nixing the notion that a new father must create happy music, frontman and lyrical whiz John Darnielle crafted songs about dark issues and compromised characters. This is established with the opener like a blow to the heart–the Amy referred to in “Amy AKA Spent Gladiator 1” is Amy Winehouse. 

They’re the same Mountain Goats, but with new tricks. The horns are a notable addition to the already diverse craft, interwoven expertly to give an orchestral swell to a number of songs (“White Cedar”). “Transcendental Youth” comes together quite excellently for indie god John Darnielle and the band, adding another album to an already stellar fall slate. n