Music Review: The Mountain Goats’ latest takes a tuneful, moving look at pro wrestling

The words “John Darnielle” and “professional wrestling” wouldn’t seem like a natural pairing, but given that The Mountain Goats‘ frontman has recorded concept albums about meth addicts, domestic violence, group homes, and Bible verses, it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that he’d get around to applying his precisely orchestrated folk-pop to a set of songs about big men in tights.

In a way, Beat The Champ is a natural progression from Darnielle’s 2014 novel Wolf In White Van, which followed a video game designer who holds on to his favorite adolescent methods of escape, B-movies and comics. Darnielle has said that Beat The Champ was inspired by his own memories of watching wrestling on fuzzy UHF channels as a boy, and picturing the world beyond the ring. It’s similar to what he’s always done with The Mountain Goats: look around himself, and use his imagination …

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