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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.


6 comments:

  1. Sorry to say that I judged Luke Haines on first appearance; maybe it was Later or The Tube. I liked the lyrical twist but couldn't get past the voice; Don't Trust the Stars sung by Paddy MacAloon would be a fine thing; the reedy delivery wasn't for me; then he was interviewed and didn't come over as quite as clever as he thought he was; acidic and a little too self possessed for me. I know, I know, that's how we like our idols but... Remember, these were the judgements of my herbert self way back. For some reason he's never been welcome in my house since although... liking Star Struck as I listen, seems a vein of faded romance that I could tap into... I'll check his book out.
    "How could I be wrong" but only an idiot can't change his mind etc...

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    1. Well, Trevor, there'll be some more haines later on - but with someone else singing.

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  2. I love Haines book from a couple years ago ,Like this album at time ,must put it on my ipod for listen been a while as usually put after .. by them on ,all the best stu

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    1. After Murder Park really good as well. I think I like this one because it was the first and because there is a real desire to make a world conquering POP album in New Wave.

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  3. I've got this on vinyl somewhere with a free 7 inch single included . Not played it for ages but going to dig it out now. I loved Sjhowgirl but remember thinking the rest of the lp couldnt quite hit those heights again

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    1. My favourites are Junk Shop Clothes, Starstruck & Showgirl. Can't remember if I got the 7 inch with my vinyl copy. Just looked it up and saw copy sold for £31. Not a bad price.

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