A year ago John Darnielle sat at his piano holding his newborn baby in one arm, pecking out notes of a melody on the keyboard with the other. But if you think that fatherhood might soften The Mountain Goats' frontman's sharply cerebral and acerbic songsmithery, think again. "I am going to keep going all the way down into the inner darkness," he countered, "it will set a good example for the baby, and besides, what am I going to do, suddenly start writing songs about cute things instead of songs about how to wrest cries of triumph from the screaming places?" Indeed. New MG album Transcendental Youth (October 2, Merge) drives that point home, as usual via some offbeat and unpredictable paths. Darnielle's verbal jumble style of lyricism and, shall we say, untrained singing style remain endearing and eccentric as ever. But, his special skill in crafting a stunning melody is also in full force, assisted in no small part by some symphonic brass arrangements that add sweeping swaths of color and texture. The magical "White Cedar" and "In the Memory of Satan" are quintessential Mountain Goat manificence: oddly askew song structures, Darnielle's wry, leftfield observations and some unexpectedly twisted and thorny hooks. Stream the full album @ Rolling Stone.
The Mountain Goats - "White Cedar" (from Transcendental Youth)
The Mountain Goats - "In Memory of Satan" (from Transcendental Youth)