Luke Haines gives a new state of the nation address on the wonderfully titled new record.
Release date: 30th April 2021
Label: Cherry Red Records
Format: CD / Digital / LP
Last seen about a year ago accompanying ex-R.E.M. man Peter Buck on Beat Poetry For the Survivalist (our review) Luke Haines returns. No better time apparently to spake forth on topics from the Eastern Bloc to Ivor Cutler, the filmmaker and acid playwright Shuji Terayama, U-Boats, having no audience in Liverpool, swimming with Andrea Dworkin, and presenting a fable about a suicidal couple (who just happen to be pumpkins). Nothing like a bit of distraction. Good for the soul and good for us all.
Buck is back too, along with Julian Barratt from The Mighty Boosh on a record that’s not a concept album (and where have we heard that before?) However, Luke has agreed to allow it to be adapted into a five-act play by a group of experimental Japanese psychologists to be performed in Tokyo sometime in the future. Take that with a pinch of salt if you like, but the thought will nag away.
It’s hard not to listen to a set of songs by Luke Haines and not come away feeling entertained. That statement might not be particularly clear, but what I’m saying is that whether he’s declaring “I’m a kaiser kinda guy” or “you and me just hanging in the shed” as he conducts what must be a one-way conversation with Mr Pumpkin while pondering the number of spiders in said shed… there’s always something interesting going on in the grooves of your vinyl LP or in the dots and dashes or whatever passes for digital code. It may even be a musical nudge; Two Japanese Freaks Talking About Mao And Nixon might have you (briefly) recalling the Jilted John riff and there’s a strange strange Hawkwind/Bowie/Kinks crossover on Ivor On The Bus.
Whatever the hook is, an endless parade of WTF moments flit in and out of the consciousness across eleven tracks. Accompanied by anything from punky and raw to glam and brassy, gentle and acoustic and various stop-offs in between, the common theme is a groovy joie de vivre. Just have a listen to where (and why) Haines just wants to be buried – hiding from God a ky factor, obviously… All life is here – Randy milkmen, saucy clippies, scarecrows and garden centres; municipal swimming pools and bus nutters. Tied together with a quaint and rudimentary, no-frills soundtrack.
So – how many spiders in your shed? Funnily enough, I just encountered a disturbingly large number of woodlice in mine. Setting The Dogs On The Post-Punk Postman might just have you deliberating some of the more bizarre things in life.
Luke Haines and Peter Buck go on a sold-out tour of the UK in September ’21. Just saying after falling foul of their enforced postponements of the original dates. In the absence of anything from Setting The Dogs… here’s a reminder of the recent Haines/Buck collaboration: