Luke Haines - "Rock And Roll Animals"
Having previously released concept albums about seventies German terrorism and British wrestling, Luke Haines is clearly no stranger to off-kilter ideas. His new album, however, may take even his most ardent followers by surprise: Rock And Roll Animals is a psychedelic tale for adults and children set in Walton On Thames, narrated by Nighty Night’s Julia Davis and featuring, as main characters, rock’n’roll pioneer Gene Vincent, pub rock legend Nick Lowe and Sham 69’s Jimmy Pursey. Only here they are, respectively, a cat, a badger and a fox. But of course.
There are nods to two of Haines’s previous bands on Rock And Roll Animals: the heavily present recorder could be heard on The Auteurs' Sick Of Hare Krishna, while the chorus of Magic Town sounds uncannily like Black Box Recorder’s Hated Sunday. The narrative, if ever-so-slightly wacky (our three furry friends fight for rock justice and righteousness and prepare for battle against their nemesis, Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North), is fluid and inspired – by what, one feels like asking – and features some of Haines’s finest lyrical gems (“We must never set our differences aside / God bless the great North/South divide”). Musically, Rock And Roll Animals is pure Haines: frail vocals, acoustic guitars and more hooks than a coat rack. The chorus of Gene Vincent (“The rock’n’roll mums and the rock’n’roll dads / Drink their wine and smoke their fags”) alone is a career high for a man whose music was once incongruously labelled britpop but who, in fact, is an irrepressible storyteller in the Ray Davies mould.