Release Date: Oct 7, 2016
Record label: Cherry Red
To those who know who he is, Luke Haines can do no wrong. When even someone’s music criticism is peerless, this much must be true. To the non-fan, fully comprehending the Haines mystique is both elementary and a conundrum. Haines is a pop songwriter through and through, yet with a vision as singular as his songs are irresistible.
RC Smash The System. Smash The System.
The advance word on Smash the System is that it’s Luke Haines’ first non-concept album in over half a decade. Because this is Luke Haines, the veracity of that appraisal depends on how exactly you define ‘not a concept album’. There are more plot details in the first minute of Smash the System than have been strung across some entire double albums.
The ex-Auteurs, Black Box Recorder, and Baader Meinhof mastermind's sixth album in seven years, Smash the System sees Haines ditching the conceptual architecture of past outings in favor of a more singles-oriented, though no less idiosyncratic, collection of new material. Haines, ever the pop culture double agent, spends much of the 12-track set living up to the moniker via sardonic take-downs of fellow industry outsiders like the Incredible String Band, Vince Taylor, and T. Rex, but his bile is tempered by his obvious affinity for his quarry.
After a loose trilogy pondering Big Daddy et al, a badger called Nick Lowe and New York in the ’70s, the reincarnated form of the artist, writer and pop provocateur Luke Haines – who declared himself dead on a 2005 boxed-set – retreated underground for last year’s British Nuclear Bunkers. Mostly instrumental, and entirely electronic, it was a concept album and so shared something with its predecessors. Here, though, is Smash The System, Haines’ first non-concept album since 2009’s 21st Century Man – although most of Haines’ output since The Auteurs underloved swansong (or should that be the underloved Auteurs’ swansong?) How I Learned To Love The Bootboys has seemed part of some grand, overarching concept; a sinister pre-Scarfolkian weltanschauung where it’s perpetually nineteen-seventy-something.