Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Mountain Goats: Beat the Champ [Merge, 2015]
As interested parties didn't need me to tell them, John Darnielle's latest is a concept album about the professional wrestlers of his '70s youth. The romanticization of the grotesque not being my thing, I have no inkling which stories are legendary and which extrapolations. But I like them all. I thank Darnielle for naming like-father-like-son Chavo Guerrero as he wages his battle against evil and Bull Ramos as he holds onto his whip for dear life. But the anonynous ferocity of "Werewolf Gimmick" and camaraderie of "Animal Mask" are just as inspirational. And although the opener establishes a tender lyricism consonant with Darnielle's own, there's no mistaking the album's most indelible line: "I will stab you in the eye with a foreign object." That's the name of the song--"Foreign Object." A-