Beat the Champ
Label: Merge Records
To Satanists, meth heads, alcoholics and new fathers, John Darnielle adds his latest subject: pro wrestlers, who, like the others, glory in standing up to fate. "The Legend of Chavo Guerrero" is the thesis statement, but "Heel Turn 2" -- its shimmering piano trailing into a long coda -- is readiest for use in your life: "Spent too much of my life trying to play fair/ Throw my better self overboard/ Shoot at him when he comes up for air." And on "Werewolf Gimmick," drummer Jon Wurster's muscular pummel pushes Darnielle a little closer to the metal he's always loved but never tried.