Luke Haines - Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop
Alex Worsnip 15/11/2006
Perhaps the most contrary man in pop, Luke Haines has still got a lot to be bitter about. Between The Auteurs (most under-rated band ever), Baader Meinhof (it's about 70's terrorism) and Black Box Recorder, he has created some of the most wonderfully perverse music ever. But his solo work has never quite hit the same mark of consistency, too reliant on synths and not as musically intense. 'Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop' is his most consistent solo album yet. It kicks off with the title track, which is a boho sendup set to an edgy disco pastiche (though the Richard X Remix is better than the version here, propelled as it is by a pumping synth line that just gives it some added oomph).
Originally conceived as an album entirely about celebrity paedophiles, two of the best songs here are relics from this idea: 'Bad Reputation' is an understated, sinister closer bearing the classic Haines line 'Gary Glitter/he's a bad bad man/ruining the reputation of Glitter band'. It has the same slow, dramatic, polished glam of 'Bootboys'-era Auteurs. Even better is 'The Walton Hop', a driving rocker that harks back to early Auteurs for the first time in absolutely ages, with an immensely memorable melody and a brilliant lyrical and vocal performance from Haines. It's the best track on the album by a long way, and joins 'Satan Wants Me' and 'Discomania' as one of the few solo Haines tracks which is up with his golden Auteurs period.
Elsewhere, there are lots of acoustic guitars and synths and it's a relatively consistent record, with the exception of one or two upbeat pastiches ('The Heritage Rock Revolution', 'Fighting In The City Again') whose choruses are somewhat lame. It's well worth it for fans, but those new to Haines should go back to The Auteurs. I'm sure he's bored of hearing that, but he knows himself how incredible those records were (as he keeps telling the world).