The Auteurs / Luke Haines

Das Capital

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"Hostalgia" is a term Luke Haines uses in the liner notes to Das Capital. He's hostile towards nostalgia, and yet he didn't let that get in the way of making new versions of old songs that were written throughout a bygone decade. Haines felt the songs were "slipping out of view," so he went about re-recording them with full orchestra backing. The result is much more preferable to the cheap-fast "best of" routine that would've occurred, had the case been left up to someone else. As far as what songs were picked, it's not quite the best representation imaginable; neither "Bailed Out" nor "Light Aircraft of Fire" receive new looks, for instance. Shortly into the disc, it becomes apparent that it's intended to be taken as a record in its own right, not as a case of freshly polished trophies. The ornate, expansive arrangements that unfold and sway throughout make it all ideal for a large concert hall. Given the characters and happenings present in Haines' songs -- from showbiz kids to showgirl brides, from child murders to buildings set aflame -- it's only a matter of time before some troupe stitches together pieces of his back catalog for their own Mamma Mia. Three new songs fit into the scheme, all of which show that the prospect of a fifth proper Auteurs record is a necessary thing. "Satan Wants Me" is prime Haines, with slaying lyrics, ensnaring hooks, stop-start dynamics, and dizzying swirls of strings. On the New Wave standard "Starstruck," Haines is even more vulnerable than he was on the original, pushed further in that direction by the epic garden music that supports him. Whether considering his own work or the material he's dealt with songwriting partner John Moore in Black Box Recorder, Haines has proved himself to be one of England's -- if not the world's -- greatest, sharpest, most sinister pop songwriters. The unfortunate thing is that, instead of introducing his work to a new crop of people, Das Capital is more likely to function as a gift for the select few who have been following his work since New Wave. The select few will also enjoy reading Haines' reviews of his own records, provided here, complete with star ratings.

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