Truth in advertising comes courtesy of Welcome to Hard Times, the new double album from The Demigs. A bleak questioning of existence on Earth that was “spurned from the wreckage of a war and a hurricane”, Welcome to Hard Times holds a cynical world view on songs such as “Long Runs the Fox,” the Philip K. Dick caste system of “Pushers & Pullers” and “Pluto,” a rebuke of interstellar science which does nothing to address issues of the here and now on this planet. Working in a bit of sly fan fiction, “Henry & Maggie” posits a dystopian postscript to Unnatural History, Cartoon Network’s 2010 live-action TV series.
Divided into two halves, the Old Testament decimation that anchors the first half of Welcome to Hard Times is fleetingly quashed by the British Invasion brevity of the album’s opening second half sobriquet, “Mr. Timer.” A ringleader for the anesthetized, Timer marches the lemmings towards The Apocalypse through the sonic atom bomb of “Dead by Monday,” the collapsing “Arches” and castling second part of the album’s opening title track, where “On this Godless earth / The meek shall inherit nothing.”
Bearing a looser structure, the second half is peppered with blues, country, funk and ’60s guitar rock. Disregarding the album’s overall conceit, Welcome to Hard Times is one hell of a fun listen. Songs like the celebratory “Matamoros” and sing-along “Distress Signals” are standout jams, while the sprawling “Paisley Desert” and closing hymn “Monochrome Blues” give Nels Cline (Wilco) a run for his money.
A dense, thought-provoking piece of art, the Denton, Texas quartet has reinvigorated the near-defunct concept album for the 21st century. A technicolored apogee of the first half-century of rock, Welcome to Hard Times stands as The Demigs’ seminal statement.
Stream/purchase Welcome to Hard Times on double vinyl, CD or in digital formats below.