BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
It might be the least likely comparison imaginable. One of the chief punk pontificators makes an album that for all the world has him sounding like, wait for it… Ian Hunter fronting Pink Floyd. Strange, you say. Indeed…and yet, that’s exactly what this Welsh-born, Chicago-based journeyman has done, in that he’s created a set of songs so thoughtful, so elaborate, so damn inventive on so many levels, that it becomes a fusion of art and sound of unexpected proportions.
Langford, a painter as well as a poet, combines both disciplines here, expanding the template he first established with the Mekons, the Waco Brothers, the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, The Three Johns and the various other odd and assorted conglomerates he’s aligned himself with over the years. Here he opts to tackle his more ambitious designs, and the results are nothing less than spectacular… and surreal. Early indications come with opening track “Summer/Stars,” wherein Langford precedes the music with poetry, prior to proceeding into a song so filled with spit and suggestion it could someday find its way into a Roger Waters opus. A similar sound is given to “If You Hear Rumours” and “Drone Operator,” wherein the elaborate arrangements show the verve and intent of both the man and his band to make music conveying a sound and a statement of landmark proportions. The themes — touching on such diverse subjects as war, profit, alienation, astronomy, fatherhood, fame and whatever else can be perceived between the lines — aren’t always easy to discern, but the sense that it’s something of consequence is never far from mind.
Happily, the band still rocks with a vengeance, as evidenced on “Gone Without Trace,” before settling into a kind of sweet repose, as on the bittersweet ballad “Sugar On Your Tongue.” Still, the grand scheme of things manages to meld those musings with a cerebral style that Langford and company take so readily to here. His scratchy Welsh accent has never abandoned him, but the confluence of art and ambition elevates him to a decidedly higher worldly reach. There’s little doubt Here Be Monsters will one day be considered the album that ensures Langford’s legacy.
DOWNLOAD: Summer/Stars,” “If You Hear Rumours,” “Sugar On Your Tongue.”