hello folks! this week, we’re taking a look at Transcendental Youth, the 2012 record by the Mountain Goats, as we make our way through their discography. let’s dig in!

i really like Amy AKA Spent Gladiator I – a track about surviving, at any cost. really like the heavy guitar strums here. Lakeside View Apartments Suite does a very interesting shift near the end – that’s the part of the song that sticks with me the most, i think. the horns in Cry For Judas contrast wonderfully with the sense of guilt in the lyrics – definitely my fave song on the record, especially with that loping bass line. excellent. Harlem Roulette starts with a strum pattern i REALLY associate with the Mountain Goats, but as the rest of the band fills in it develops its own character. i think i’d peg this track as very classically Mountain Goats though, at the end of the day. White Cedar is a reflective piano-driven track – the kind of instrumentation that invites you in softly and wraps you in sadness. there’s like two snare hits at the middle of the track that feel like gunshots, phenomenal. Until I Am Whole feels very much like the kind of procrastinating you do on important things for a time you don’t believe is coming. Night Light is tense – haunted. The Diaz Brothers reminds me of something i can’t place – really dig the piano performance here, and John Darnielle’s vocal performance is doing some very fun stuff. Counterfeit Florida Plates is fine. i don’t have a ton to say about it. In Memory of Satan has some fun drum lines backing the track – an interesting musing on being inside and alone. Spent Gladiator II’s opening lines lend some extra context back to the intro track, but it also is less advice and more a matter-of-fact description of that same type of scrappiness, of staying in no matter the cost. fucking LOVE the opening horns on Transcendental Youth, our closer and title track. i think the sense of camaraderie here is very fun, and an excellent way to close things out.

faves – Amy AKA Spent Gladiator I, Cry For Judas, The Diaz Brothers, Transcendental Youth
dislikes –

the repeated references to Portland on this record definitely tie it to the same topics discussed on We Shall All Be Healed – which i think is still fairly clear if you take the song topics together, with tracks about depression, about substance abuse, about feeling left out and abandoned and hopeless. i think this record lands very close to that one – there’s parts of this i really enjoyed (especially the horns! excellent choices there!), but on the whole i had a bit of a hard time connecting and digging in. i think if you really really enjoyed WSABH and the introspective, slightly autobiographical stuff, i think there’s a lot of nice stuff waiting here.

Transcendental Youth – 6/10

next up, we’re checking out Beat the Champ

once again, thanks the Annotated Mountain Goats site and the Mountain Goats wiki!

support the band by checking this album out on Bandcamp!

the beginning: Zopilote Machine | previous: All Eternals Deck | next: Beat the Champ

all my reviews for The Mountain Goats