If the Punk 101 rulebook contains a chapter dedicated to hating concept albums, Grant Hart clearly skipped it. As early as 1984 he’d recorded landmark, Quadrophenia-esque double-set Zen Arcade with Minneapolis hardcore trailblazers Hüsker Dü, while 1991’s equally complex time-travel epic The Last Days Of Pompeii remains his most satisfying post-Hüskers waxing.
Hart’s most anticipated release in two decades, The Argument features 20 tracks primarily based upon John Milton’s Paradise Lost and an unpublished manuscript for a mooted William Burroughs sci-fi novel. All very highbrow and ambitious for sure, yet despite portentous advance warnings of material involving fallen angels, the Garden Of Eden and Dante-ish visions of Hell, songs such as the plaintive Morningstar and the Buddy Holly-aping rattle of Letting Me Out quickly prove Hart’s still more than capable of channelling his lofty ideals through good ol’ verse-chorus- verse.
He occasionally strays off course. The 75-minute running time is taxing and neither the weird, cyclical War In Heaven or the dense incantations of Awake, Arise! are for the faint-hearted. The unlikely Tiny Tim-style ragtime shuffle of Underneath The Apple Tree, however, is realised with humour and aplomb, while the anthemic pop-punk romp Glorious more than lives up to the title’s premise. Tim Peacock