Luke Haines : The Oliver Twist Manifesto

Professional misanthropy from 'Pop Strike' pioneer

The erstwhile Auteur loves saying the unsayable, and the bizarre Dickensian Slim Shady character that glowers through the music on ‘The Oliver Twist Manifesto’ – his first ‘proper’ solo LP – is his most hateful invention yet. This is Haines as cultural dilettante – a murderous misanthrope who brings fear and doom to all.

While he wastes valuable bile on worthless art bores (‘Death Of Sarah Lucas’), when he finds something to get genuinely upset about, Haines is a genuinely stunning writer. His unusually affecting treatise on mortality ‘What Happens When We Die’ is exceptional – the primitive synth-march of ‘England Vs America’ is possibly even better.

However, if you want evidence of what bitterness can do to a person, it may be worth tracing the manner that Haines’ voice has degenerated to a hoarse whisper as his albums have become more spiteful. He hisses like a pantomime villain throughout this bizarre, uneven assault on popular culture: [I]”You’ve gotta believe me when I say I never wanted to be liked”,[/I] he coughs on the title track. If that was his aim, then with the most unlikeable album of his entire career, he’s going the right way about it.

Jim Wirth