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Transcendental Youth

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John Darnielle's plan is simple, but it's never easy. As drummer Jon Wurster lays down a basic, sturdy beat, Darnielle grabs an acoustic guitar or, more recently, sits at a piano and sings an easy, flowing melody with an ambush of lyrics. His nasal delivery grabs listeners with its wired intensity and teetering desperation. This time out, horns blurt during the emotionally dissonant "Cry for Judas," where sad, lost characters thrill to the joys of their mistakes and roll on with a melody that bounces along as if nothing is wrong. "Harlem Roulette" features a hook that demands to be played repeatedly, as the words speak to the past and future of loneliness. "In Memory of Satan" adds a sorrowful orchestration. The lumbering beats of "Until I Am Whole" pull through an existential crisis that's always on the verge. "Night Light" plays the urgent end of a film plot; it's far from the exultation of the album's opening track, "Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1," where Darnielle encourages the masses to "do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive." 

Customer Reviews

JD never disappoints!

I will never tire of listening to the wonderful stories and poetic imagery of The Mountain Goats lyrics. This record is another gem by the band that seems to never run dry of inspiration- and aren't we lucky! Thanks for another great record- from press play on.

Will be listening for years to come

I don't normally leave reviews on albums, but something this good deserves no less than five stars. Check out "Cry for Judas", "Counterfeit Florida Plates", and "In Memory of Satan" if you need a taste before buying the whole thing.


This album truly sets a new standard for the Goats. I've been listening to this album for about a week (I was lucky enough to get a prerelease version) and I can't put it down! It's got enough of the old Goats style with a great hint of new, it's perfect! A solid 9/10!


Formed: 1991 in Claremont, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The Mountain Goats are, for all practical purposes, the endlessly clever and prolific John Darnielle and whatever musicians he surrounds himself with, which means that while the soundscape may change from project to project, the overall tone and feel of Darnielle's work remains remarkably consistent. At his best, he writes finely observed, slightly surreal, impressionistic vignettes that manage to mix life as we live it with life as we wish we could live it, and as such he has more in common with...
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