John Darnielle has a lot of reasons to be excited lately. His novel Wolf in White Van was on the New York Times' Bestseller List and nominated for the National Book Award last year, and this year, his band The Mountain Goats are releasing a new album!

Beat the Champ will be out on 7 April in the US and on 13 April in Europe, and it's a collection of songs centered around one common theme: professional wrestling. Yep, you read that right - and if you want evidence, listen to the album's first cut 'The Legend of Chavo Guerrero' below. In a press release, Darnielle explained the premise behind the record a bit further:

"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".

Fiction writer Joseph Fink of Welcome to Night Vale spoke at length about the album as well, read an excerpt below:

"Beat the Champ is a gorgeous album that sees the Mountain Goats expand themselves musically, in startling and exciting ways. Here is a jazz chord progression over brushed cymbals. Here is a track that spirals out from verse and chorus into a slow, hazy piano solo. Here are pounding drums straight from a metal record. And here, as always, are songs like no one else can write them. Like no one else does write them.

Everything I’ve said so far is true. So is this:

When my father was dying, literally was on his deathbed, although we did not know it, he and I sang songs by the Mountain Goats together.

After finishing singing one of the songs, my father leaned his head back, looked over to a beam of sun coming in from a window with a gorgeous view of the Hollywood Hills that he could not see from his bed, and said: “What an optimistic man.” He died two days later.

Nameless bodies in unremembered rooms. What an optimistic man. What an album. What a goddamn album."

At the time of writing, the Merge Records website is down, but when it's back up you can pre-order it in a variety of formats.

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