With its hungover vocals, hallucinatory echo effects and saucy attitude, Weird War may seem like just another retro band. In truth, it's a group of playwrights. Each track on Illuminated
sets up a neat little world, complete with characters, a plot and a set built from evocative musical cues. A woman leaves her old man for a biker gang (whose motors rev in the driveway as she writes her "Dear John" letter) on "Motorcycle Mongoloid." "See About Me" takes us into the suburban home of a man and his mail-order bride. On "Mental Poisoning," the band packs up its trippiest guitars and journeys to 1960s Morocco, with a layover in China to pick up some kung-fu gongs. The band takes a big ol' bite out of the bassline from "Play That Funky Music" to set the stage for "Girls Like That," a conversation between a guy and a gal about the opposite sex's questionable taste in partners. We've heard most of these stories before, but Weird War gives such a rousing performance that a little redundancy can be forgiven.