There are certain bands who seem to be around for ages – groups who havee always been there, delivering solid quality over the years on a moderate level of popularity. THE MOUNTAIN GOATS – the american folk rock group around John Darnielle is such a group who’s been around since actually two decades. And now they release their 14th studio record – not the worst rate, wouldn’t you agree? With intelligent songwriting full of wisdom, bittersweet humor and brutal honesty, Darnielle managed to stay relevant all over the years. Combined with the solid musical environment of these words THE MOUNTAIN GOATS create a feeling of security and consistency.
So, Transcendental Youth, the new album focuses – in the words of the frontman – “on outcasts, recluses, the mentally ill, and others struggling in ordinary society.” What a lovely topic – and what a way to start a record with such magnificant words like “Do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive” in the opener Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1. The whole record is full of such remarkable lines like “The loneliest people in the whole wide world are the ones you’re never going to see again” in the track Harlem Roulette. Some of the songs are more in a groovy, folk senses while other unfold the complete melancholia in touching tracks like the wonderful White Cedar (including epic brass section) and Until I Am Whole. But there is still room for uplifting moments like the engergetic The Diaz Brothers or Splent Gladiator 2. A classical instrumentation once again, very guitar-driven but also with a fancy piano in it and always the beautiful brass moments.
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS‘ new album is everything you expected from this record. Beautiful songs and wonderful lyrics – bittersweet and haunting as life sometimes can be. And there are many ways to write and sing about the confusion that life contains. But not so many fantastic and touching ways of doing it. Another example? “And just before I leave I throw up in the sink. One whole life recorded in disappearing ink” – is there anything left to say? Life is about its stories and the way to deal with them – and John Darnielle aka THE MOUNTAIN GOATS is the one to capture these stories. Hopefully not for the last time.
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS
folk / singer-songwriter
from Claremont, California, USA