Luke Haines is one of Britain’s genuine rock n roll eccentrics. As lead singer of The Auteurs he created some of the greatest albums of the era, including my personal favourite album of all time ‘After Murder Park’. As a solo artist he has created several (mainly concept) albums. And as an author he has released two amazing books telling his stories of the brit-pop era (in which he is apparently responsible for the death of) told with the brilliant dry wit and cynicism you would expect from him. Now he releases his brand new album ‘British Nuclear Bunkers,’ on Cherry Red Records. So it’s going to be an album full of singalong indie anthems like ‘Lenny Valentino’ and Showgirl’ right? Of course not. This time round Mr. Haines has gone electronic. He has recorded the whole album using only analogue equipment, on what is predominantly an instrumental album.
So what is the concept all about? Well it looks into a dystopian future where we live in underground bunkers hidden under Britain where money has no value; a theory similar to that in Ayn Rand’s classic novel ‘Atlas Shrugged’. I don’t think anyone will ever totally understand fully what is going on in Mr. Haines’ mind, but on this album you definitely can hear the cogs working. And it is without doubt the mind of a genius. The ideas that ran threw previous projects Baader Meinhoff and Black Box Recorder have evolved; he has never solidified. Listening to his music hasn’t always been easy. With previous work covering such subjects as child murder an international terrorism, this was never going to be an album of fluffy love songs. It kicks off with a sinister start on ‘This is the BBC,’ an announcement of impending nuclear war. What else would we expect? The glorious synth sounds that we hear throughout the album wouldn’t be out of place on a movie soundtrack from eighties, giving it a kind of cinematic sound. It shifts and moves through the more laid back tracks such as ‘Camden Borough Council,’ to the frankly terrifying ‘Mama Check The Radar At The Dada Station.’ A track with bleeps so ferocious, it could easily get away with being one of those great early WARP techno tracks. The record is scattered throughout with short vocal loops, breaking up the instrumentals. ‘Pussy Willow (Kids Song)’ sits somewhere inbetween sweet and intensely creepy. The child’s vocals on the end make it sound like the score from a horror film. But the album as a whole sounds like it was a score in the mind of the creator.
This album isn’t for everyone. If you’re contemplating a purchase based on a liking on his previous more well known work, then maybe think again. But if you want to hear something new from a forward thinking artist, then listen on. The genius/madness of Luke Haines lives on for another album.