The ex-Auteurs mastermind goes off the deep end with his follow-up to 2016's stylistically diverse Smash the System, delivering a bonkers concept album about a rural English settlement populated by horny, glue-huffing miniature mutants with a penchant for liberating newspaper stands of their solvents. Since leaving the Auteurs, Black Box Recorder, and Baader Meinhof behind in 2000, Luke Haines has become a lightning rod for Anglo-esoterica, broadcasting tall tales of Dickensian villainy (Oliver Twist Manifesto), the heydays of British wrestling (Nine and a Half Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s and Early '80s), and Atomic Age ephemera (British Nuclear Bunkers) with a compelling blend of care and causticity. I Sometimes Dream of Glue's closest sibling is 2013's folksy Rock and Roll Animals, an adult fairy tale that cast imagined versions of Jimmy Pursey, Gene Vincent, and Nick Lowe as forest animals battling a monstrous duck. This time around, the backstory is even more surreal, with Haines spinning his hedonistic yarn off the back of an alternate history where British Special Forces, en route to Germany in the 1940s, accidently dumped ten tons of experimental solvent liquid in the English countryside, ostensibly creating the mad Lilliputian village that would eventually become known as Glue Town. Musically, the 14-track set steers clear of some of the sonic deviations that preceded it, opting for an almost pagan folk feel, with recorder and accordion used liberally. The melodies are engaging, and the turns of phrase are typically sardonic, with song highlights arriving via the breezy but narratively decadent "Everybody's Coming Together for the Summer" and the winking opener, "Angry Man on a Small Train." It's also nearly impenetrable for anyone outside of the U.K., as it's immeasurably steeped in the region's culture and vernacular -- the album's lone single, the sinister "The Subbuteo Lads," imagines the rise to power of the two-inch tall, hairless, and lead-filled Rugby and cricket heroes from the tabletop sports game of the same name. Still, it's hard not to admire Haines' moxie, as his willingness to follow his muse is equaled only by his unwillingness to conform to, well, anything.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger