Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pass/Fail: The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth

Sadly, the last great Mountain Goats' record is 2002's Tallahassee.  Since then, John Darnielle and company have released albums and songs that have been very hit or miss.  Newest record Transcendental Youth is no different.

There's no doubt that Darnielle is one of his generation's great lyricists.  I'd put the Hold Steady's Craig Finn in that same category, too.  With both of these guys, you can count on interesting characters and stories, but both of these sometimes come at the expense of the music and song structure.

Opening track "Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1" sounds like a typical recent Mountain Goats song, and this sets the tone for the rest of what's to come.  It's a decent song, but it's not very memorable.

Several tracks feature a horn section, which, for better or worse, adds a new dimension to the songs.  "Cry for Judas" is the first of these and has a "Dance Music"/"This Year" vibe to it.  "In Memory of Satan" and the title track bring to mind Burt Bacharach.

Transcendental Youth is too calm and reminds me of how much I miss the frantic strumming and vocals of the boombox years.  If you're new to the Mountain Goats, this record would not be the starting point for an introduction.  Start with the early stuff and work your way up to the more recent albums.

Grade: Fail

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