Jon Langford and Richard Buckner aren’t such polar opposites as, say, Jay-Z and the Beatles, but this joint venture has some of the same left-field appeal of an unexpected pop mash-up: It’s most interesting for the ways in which each player’s talents connect, collide, or combine to create something unexpected or altogether new.
The more pedestrian cuts find our hosts clutching their cards close. Langford’s “Torn Apart” sets his typical wounded, road-weary narratives to a familiar Man-in-Black-gone-pub-rock beat, while Buckner’s “Stayed” and “Do You Wanna Go Somewhere?” fit his rap as the noisenik’s Townes Van Zandt. The only really surprising sounds come with “From Attic To Basement”, a percussive instrumental that’s credited to Langford but sounds like Four Tet.
Even so, the juxtaposition of the duo’s skills often finds one man drawing out the other. Subtract sideman John Rice’s glimmering mando and the steady nudge of Langford’s chucka-chuck rhythm guitar, and “Sweet Anybody” is just another Buckner weeper. Buckner’s “Rolling Of The Eyes” boasts a beautiful melody that Langford would never attempt, but Jon ups the ante with a brutal, urgent electric lead. On “Inca Princess”, Langford gets Buckner to cut loose and rock in a way he’s rarely done on record, and Buckner’s golden touch with a vocal phrase does right by a sparkling set of Langford lyrics on “Nothing To Show”. While this disc is clearly meant for fans only, those fans will be well served.