On the surface, an entire album devoted to the world of professional wrestling might seem strange, but in the context of the Mountain Goats’ vast discography it fits right in. In multiple interviews leading up to the release of this album, Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle has gone on the record professing his love for the art of professional wrestling, specifically the pre-WWE territorial days of the 1970s and late 80s. The days in which one could find any number of regional promotions on a fuzzy television set. Darnielle treats these wrestlers as folk heroes and a result turns in his strongest collection of songs in a few years.
The album opens with the heartfelt “Southwestern Territory,” about a wrestler’s journey on the road from town to town and features standout lines like “I try to remember to write in the diary/that my son gave me.” Next up is the excellent single, “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero,” about Darnielle’s favorite wrestler and hero growing up and it is excellent. One would be hard pressed to find a bad track on this entire album. Other highlights include the catchy and horn-filled “Foreign Object” about a wrestler’s penchant for stabbing people in the eye with a foreign object and “Werewolf Gimmick,” about an overconfident wrestler who has metaphorically become his character. But the best song on the album is the low-key and touching song “Animal Mask,” about the bond that two tag team partners share with each other and features great lines like “some things you won’t remember/some things stay sweet forever.”
I highly recommend this album, even for people who don’t enjoy wrestling as there’s still plenty of great storying telling and songwriting as always.
Recommended If You Like: Andrew Jackson Jihad, Paul Baribeau, Defiance, Ohio
Recommended Tracks: 4 (Animal Mask), 3 (Foreign Object), 9 (Werewolf Gimmick), 2 (The Legend of Chavo Guerrero), 5 (Choked Out), 6 (Heel Turn 2)
Do Not Play: Clean
Written by Jake Waters on 04/05/2015