Their new album may be titled Beat The Champ, but today it seems like the Mountain Goats themselves are the champs of alternative music, and they are not likely to be beaten any time soon.
Released to eagerly awaiting fans on April 7, Beat The Champ is a concept album, following the story of the low-grade professional wrestling that was popular in Texas, Mexico, and California in the 1970s before the WWE came to dominate the industry. John Darnielle, the Mountain Goat’s founder and one perpetual member, is no stranger to drawing on autobiographical material for his music—the 2005 album The Sunset Tree largely concerns his relationship with his late, abusive stepfather. But Beat The Champ’s theme is especially interesting, combining as it does Darnielle’s remembrance of his juvenile adulation for wrestling as a young child and his talent for dark, foreboding, yet ultimately uplifting lyrical storytelling.
The album has been released to high critical acclaim, receiving favorable reviews from Jer Fairall of Exclaim! music magazine and garnering a score of 78/100 on Metacritic. Songs such as “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero,” “Heel Turn 2,” and “Choked Out” give the music a feel that is both violent and peaceful, depressing yet uplifting, somber yet angry. According to senior David Golden, “I don’t think it’s as strong as some of their earlier efforts, like Tallahassee  and The Sunset Tree , but the album is a pleasure to listen to anyway. The Mountain Goats have once again succeeded in creating an album that is beautiful because of, not in spite of, its contradictions.” Sophomore Meredith Aristone summed it up more simply. “It’s just really good,” she said.