One wonders what drives Luke Haines. What makes him get up in the morning, you know? A few years ago, I'd have said it was his (lingering) rage at the never-ending legacy of Britpop. Still, he is capable of surprises as 2015's risky British Nuclear Bunkers showed. And now, after a career retrospective, he's back with yet another concept album. I Sometimes Dream Of Glue, out this Friday on Cherry Red Records, is perhaps his wildest one yet. It's a record that begs re-upping the official synopsis of the concept:
Just off the Westway, in the motorway sidings, you can see a small sign. Actually you probably can't see the sign as it is the size of a child's fingernail clipping. The sign says 'Glue Town.' The name of a village. There is little or no documentation of Glue Town. You will not find any information about it on the 21st Century internet. Gluetown is a rural settlement born out of mutation. Of the estimated 500 or so dwellers, no one is thought to be over 2 1⁄2 inches tall. The citizens of Glue Town exist on a diet of solvent abuse and perpetual horniness. The residents only leave to carry out daring night-time 'glue raids' on Shepherds Bush newsagent shops. On a tiny screen in the town centre, an old Betamax cassette of 'Michael Bentine’s Pottytime' plays on a loop all day and all night. The reduced size villagers go about their daily business pondering whether the lessons of Pottytime can show them a way out of their drudge lives of sexual abandonment and human sacrifice…
Okay then. Whatever the hell that's about, the next question is, how's the music here?
There is a certain fierceness at play on this one, the kind of quiet resentment set to music that Luke's a master of. Stuff like "She Was Ripe As A Meadow" and "The Subbuteo Lads" see Haines pursue his singular concept with a decided braveness that counts for a lot in today's moribund musical environment. "Everybody's Coming Together For The Summer" very nearly jumps off of I Sometimes Dream Of Glue as an obvious single, while the title cut here purrs with the sort of sinister charm long-time fans of this guy's long career will easily recognize. And sure, "We Could Do It" is also nearly accessible, but this remains a radically out there record conceptually.
Look, there's no easy way to describe I Sometimes Dream Of Glue as the record is an odd release from a guy who's released plenty of difficult records. Still, there are joys here, and for long-time fans of Luke Haines, there's going to be a lot to enjoy here as the artist pursues his singular vision.