John Darnielle is still writing pointed but empathetic lyrics about people who are lying in the gutter and aren’t sure where the stars went. He keeps expanding the sound around them, though: this time, the Mountain Goats have added a horn section that throws Darnielle’s tart bray into sharper relief. Transcendental Youth is a grim, grim album — most of the characters are barely clinging to life and sanity. When the horns radiate around Darnielle’s voice on the title track as he sings about a vision of ascending heavenward “on air gone black with flies,” it’s a moment of glory and terror.
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Top 10 Albums
- 10. Killer Mike, R.A.P. Music
- 9. Azealia Banks, 1991 EP
- 8. The Mountain Goats, Transcendental Youth
- 7. Various Artists, Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1967–74
- 6. Swans, The Seer
- 5. Getatchew Mekuria & the Ex & Friends, Y’Anbessaw Tezeta
- 4. Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan
- 3. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
- 2. Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city
- 1. Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do