It’s another perfectly observed collection of songs made real by Darnielle’s deceptively plainspoken poetry.
As an introduction to the perhaps intimidating world of the Mountain Goats, Transcendental Youth is as good a place to start as any; many of Darnielle's favourite subjects are covered, and in poetic verse, with capable musical backing.
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.
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.
It is an unlikely collection of absolute pop anthems, more so than most Mountain Goats albums.
Song for song, Transcendental Youth doesn't have the consistency of the Mountain Goats' strongest records, and it lacks both variation and character motivation around the middle.
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.
The album doesn’t match the group’s best output, but it’s a strong and occasionally stunning entry.