Album Reviews

Album Review: Luke Haines – 21st Century Man (Fantastic Plastic)

By | Published on Friday 13 November 2009

Luke Haines

“I was a spiteful child, caught up in the razzle-dazzle/I gotta get myself together – just like Peter Hammill”.Or so says Luke Haines on the imaginatively-titled ‘Peter Hammill’ – a glam funk ode to the Van der Graaf Generator frontman, which follows a familiar Haines path of underground pop culture and fearful introspection.

The line is a sentiment of some contradiction, though, following, as it does, an album opener of settled reflection, ‘Suburban Mourning’. Haines may still see the sleaze with his patented ‘cynical goggles’, but here he’s already together, content merely to reflect on the past. It’s a theme which runs throughout, as ‘Love Letter To London’ and ‘English Southern Man’ affirm Haines’ identity as a man of his country and his culture, singing of what he’s already learned – constantly harking back to his former band The Auteurs.

The music, too, lacks progression, as ‘White Honky Afro’ (he can still do brilliant title) apes the intense back-and-forth of The Auteurs’ ‘New French Girlfriend’ and most else could be a ‘Now I’m A Cowboy’ era B-side. ‘Wot A Rotter’ may shine for a few minutes in its Sparks/Blondie disco-punk decadence, but it’s hard to see any reason to reflect on this come 2100.

He may be a 21st century man right now, but Haines may be on his way to be being a 21st century granddad. TM

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