All things considered, Grant Hart has been pretty quiet as of late. After a decade away from the solo spotlight, he released Hot Wax in 2009, but has been mostly incognito since then; The Argument is, therefore, only his second solo document in 14 years. He felt like he needed to make a statement, and so we got this: a 20-track, double-disc concept album based around an unpublished manuscript of William S. Burroughs's retelling of John Milton's poem, 'Paradise Lost'. I suppose you could call that, um, ambitious. If you're confused, you shouldn't be, because it's really not as obtuse as all that.

The former Hüsker Dü man has always had a way with melody - indeed, he was the melodic force behind the band with which he made his name - so he's made sure that songs with names like 'I Am Death' and 'I Will Never See My Home' are bright and accessible, though there's enough space to play with that even the more downbeat moments are allowed their moment in the sun; 'So Far From Heaven' is as introspective as its title suggests, and the call-and-response hymnal qualities of the title track rise above a mere musical curio to form one of the most compelling moments on the album.

There's enough contrast between light and shade to ensure that the album never sounds monotonous, and forbidding-looking tracklist hides the fact that Hart is most comfortable when writing tracks that clock in around three minutes long.

Overall, the pared-down production helps the more straightforward tracks, like 'Letting Me Out' and the harmonica-flecked closer 'For Those Too High Aspiring' to shine, but there are some times when the listener is left longing for a slighter beefier production job to help accommodate the busier tracks. The delicate arrangement of 'Awake, Arise!' is made to sound cluttered by the lo-fi production, stumbling and limping when it should rightly soar, and the album sometimes sounds muffled when it doesn't need to. There's enough going on in these songs to entice the listener back for repeated listens, as well as a number of musical callbacks to Hart's days in Hüsker Dü; The Argument is an album which straddles different genres and makes a surprising number of things work very well indeed.

Too many double albums run out of steam too early and limp to a close, but Hart's latest gets better as it goes on and has a particularly strong finish. He wanted to make a statement, and insofar as that goes, it's mission accomplished.