Thursday, November 29, 2012
Top 102 Albums. No. 90. New Wave
Top 102 Albums. No. 90.
New Wave - The Auteurs.
This is the first, but will not be the last appearance of Luke Haines on this list. In a voice dripping cynicism and a talent for melodies Haines could claim to be a progenitor of Britpop and simultaneously nothing to do with it. In terms of his own progenitors I would proffer Ray Davies and Steve Harley. Like both Haines often sings in a voice dripping with cynicism but with a simultaneous talent for creating beautiful melodies.
There always seems to be a tension between his desire to 'make it' and his disdain for the circus of fame. Somewhat like that wielder of American Guitars Kurt Cobain. Haines had a subversive bent and was often to subvert the possibility of success.
It is perhaps fitting then that this album plays with the whole idea of celebrity and success, opening with Showgirl, in which Luke sings "got myself a showgirl wife" and ends with the question "don't you recognise me?" The second song opens with the line "Your star is descending." There already seems to be a sense that failure might be more interesting than success. Indeed, Haines famously broke both of his ankles in an act of self sabotage which seems to be predicted here - "I was in traction."
In Starstruck he inhabits the voice of a failed child star. The tension between desire and disdain is perhaps best illustrated in these lines: "At age five / My career took / Its first nosedive / I've been starstruck / all my life."
He casts himself as a face pressed to the window of fame, a stalker, a voyeur. "I was walking / Around your house / In the middle of the night" "Housesitting again / Rifling through your possessions and stuff / The things that you are ashamed of / Home again, / housesitting again / Looking through photos at the back of your drawer / The way that you looked when you were small." He was never really asking you to let him into your heart! But that's where he ended up, sneaking around, making sarcastic comments and stealing your girlfriend's underwear.
If you like your music creepy and literate then it doesn't get much better than Haines. I've reviewed his book on this period Bad Vibes elsewhere on this site. Acidic and funny, it's a fine read.