The Mountain Goats will release their 15th album (!) Beat the Champ on April 7th through Merge Records. In anticipation, it’s streaming in full via NPR.org.
The 13-track album follows up on 2012’s Transcendental Youth. Whereas that album focused on a continuing story about a group of outcasts, Beat the Champ is a concept record about professional wrestling. In an essay released with the album’s announcement, frontman John Darnielle describes watching wrestling on television as a kid and how it was formative for him. While not every song focuses on the sport, Darnielle says there are prevailing themes of “death and difficult-to-navigate interior spaces” throughout.
“Beat the Champ is about professional wrestling, which was an avenue of escape for me when I was a kid,” Darnielle explains. “Wrestling was low-budget working class entertainment back then, strictly UHF material. It was cheap theater. You had to bring your imagination to the proceedings and you got paid back double. I wrote these songs to re-immerse myself in the blood and fire of the visions that spoke to me as a child, and to see what more there might be in them now that I’m grown.”
The album is preceded by the singles “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero” and “Heel Turn 2”. Pre-orders are ongoing.
Beat the Champ Tracklist:
1. Southwestern Territory
2. The Legend of Chavo Guerrero
3. Foreign Object
4. Animal Mask
5. Choked Out
6. Heel Turn 2
7. Fire Editorial
8. Stabbed to Death Outside San Juan
9. Werewolf Gimmick
12. The Ballad of Bull Ramos
13. Hair Match