Transcendental Youth - The Mountain Goats
Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Matthew E. White's horn charts are the musical development Darnielle has in store for us. But the dealmaker is Jon Wurster's spare, inescapable drumming.
  2. Oct 22, 2012
    90
    What you find in Transcendental Youth aren't answers to any big questions, but instead questions to a bunch of answers that never meant anything before but now seem exceedingly important.
  3. Oct 2, 2012
    83
    It's another perfectly observed collection of songs made real by Darnielle's deceptively plainspoken poetry.
  4. Nov 1, 2012
    80
    A sense of quiet triumph pervades: this may be the prettiest Mountain Goats album yet.
  5. Oct 19, 2012
    80
    Darnielle still ties this album up under a loose theme, but it is a bold, Cinemascope-like vision of social and religious outcasts. [Nov 2012, p.92]
  6. Oct 19, 2012
    80
    Darnielle [is] a songwriter still worth paying attention to.
  7. 80
    The brass-orchestral ups and downs make Transcendental Youth an easier trajectory of peaks and valleys than the flatter, subtler All Eternals Deck.
  8. Oct 10, 2012
    80
    An uneasy gamut of emotion imbues another exceptional Mountain Goats effort. [No. 92, p.51]
  9. 80
    The band used to simply propel Mr. Darnielle's succinct melodies and his friendly but insistent voice; now it has finer calibrations.
  10. Oct 5, 2012
    80
    The band's interplay has grown both more varied and intuitive.
  11. Oct 4, 2012
    80
    It is an unlikely collection of absolute pop anthems, more so than most Mountain Goats albums.
  12. Oct 4, 2012
    80
    They may not be particularly youthful anymore, but there's plenty of transcendence to be found on this record.
  13. 80
    It's perennially refreshing to hear the work of someone who so obviously does not care what critics think of him; Darnielle's music reliably gives you the world from his eyes.
  14. Oct 3, 2012
    80
    If Transcendental Youth is the best thing Darnielle's ever done, it's only because it's about five per cent tighter and better-played.
  15. Oct 2, 2012
    80
    This album pursues a theme of escape from the more lurid temptations of early adulthood, and Darnielle locates an aptly urgent yet reflective tone. [Nov 2012, p.79]
  16. Oct 1, 2012
    80
    His unique literary view into both the banal and the horrific mix with the most interesting and developed arrangement of any Mountain Goats album and the result is some of the strongest, most compelling work of an already brilliant run.
  17. Oct 1, 2012
    80
    This is another hyper-energized, beautifully crafted album by the Mountain Goats.
  18. Oct 2, 2012
    78
    Darnielle finds equal grains of humanity and empathy in people crouched in the darkest corners and blinded by the brightest spotlights. It's not spirituality, escapism, or even optimism, exactly, that he's espousing--all you know is it's some kind of light.
  19. With Transcendental Youth, the Mountain Goats have proven that they're more than capable of engaging us with even without the unimpeachable witticisms of their frontman.
  20. Oct 2, 2012
    76
    Joined by bassist Peter Hughes and Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster, Darnielle's brilliant, pointed lyrics are reaching a new audience.
  21. Oct 8, 2012
    75
    Transcendental Youth, despite its frequent use of a punchy horn section, is bleak, even by Darnielle's standards. It's also one of the band's best.
  22. Oct 3, 2012
    72
    Fortunately, Darnielle's writing usually carries it, grounding his songs to keep them memorable and offer entryways back into something that continually seeks the transcendence its title suggests.
  23. 70
    Slightly predictable, but the work of master craftsmen.
  24. Oct 8, 2012
    70
    Though [the songs on Transcendental Youth] may not reach the highs of past songs like Damn These Vampires from last year's All Eternals Deck or Family Happiness from The Coroner's Gambit, there is still plenty here for fans of The Mountain Goats to sink their teeth into.
  25. Oct 5, 2012
    70
    An album full of characters struggling against dead-end jobs, drug addiction and depression doesn't exactly sound inviting, but in the hands of John Darnielle, it's magic.
  26. Oct 2, 2012
    70
    Transcendental Youth, Darnielle's strident delivery and all, can be an exercise in sadomasochism, but at times a very rich one. Still, Darnielle seems willing to walk over coals that most of us would rather experience secondhand.
  27. Oct 1, 2012
    70
    On the whole, though, call Transcendental Youth a stumble and wait for the next Mountain Goats release next year.
  28. Oct 23, 2012
    60
    The tales of love, loss, life and death on his 14th album are embellished with brass flourishes for the first time, which only adds to the sense of drama. [Nov 2012, p.102]
  29. Oct 1, 2012
    60
    Ultimately the album adds another respectable line to The Mountain Goats' discography.
  30. Oct 8, 2012
    50
    The majority of the album is not different or progressive enough to be exciting--and it's not enjoyable enough to make up for it.
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Oct 14, 2012
    9
    Another really fine album by the underrated John Darnielle and the band. The song writing is fantastic as always but this time the brass arrangements add a musical depth rarely experienced on previous offerings. One of the best albums of the year for sure. Full Review »