One of the sharpest and most prolific British songwriters of his generation, Luke Haines -- who began modestly enough in a string of obscure '80s bands, including the Servants -- helmed the glam noir of the Auteurs, the broken funk of Baader Meinhof, and the (mostly) downbeat pop of Black Box Recorder, in addition to releasing material under his own name. During the last seven years of the '90s, Haines issued six albums that ranged from fine to spectacular, from the Mercury Prize-nominated New Wave (1993) to the sleek, bleak How I Learned to Love the Bootboys (1999). After the release of Black Box Recorder's second album, 2000's The Facts of Life (the title track hit the upper reaches of the U.K. singles chart), Haines issued his first true recordings.
Christie Malry's Own Double Entry and The Oliver Twist Manifesto were released within a couple months of each other in mid-2001 -- the former a soundtrack to the darkly comic film of the same name, and the latter a surprisingly effective fusion of Haines' typically snide and downcast melodies over springy hip-hop-oriented production. (The week the disc was released, Haines called for a weeklong National Pop Strike, a period in which any musician could turn in his or her wares and receive amnesty for any and all "crimes" committed against pop.) Two years later, Haines sidestepped a typical best-of release with Das Capital, a set of Auteurs material recorded with orchestral backing. Luke Haines Is Dead (2005), however, summarized Haines' career to that point across a wide span of three CDs containing highlights, B-sides, and radio sessions.
Haines' second proper solo album, Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop, came in 2006. A year later, he published Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in Its Downfall, a book that rankled former colleagues (he referred to Auteurs member James Banbury only as "the cellist") and longtime enemies alike. In 2012, Haines released the typically idiosyncratic (and self-explanatory) Nine and a Half Psychedelic Meditations on British Wresting of the 1970s and Early '80s and the career overview Outsider/In: The Collection, followed in 2013 by the conceptual adult fairy tale Rock and Roll Animals and, a year later, by New York in the 70's, another ambitious concept album. In the summer of 2014, he collaborated on a theatrical piece with artist Scott King called Adventures in Dementia: A Micro Opera, whose story centered around a Mark E. Smith (lead singer of the Fall) impersonator's caravan holiday. The brief six-song soundtrack was released in January 2015, with the electronics-driven new conceptual full-length British Nuclear Bunkers arriving that October. His sixth album in seven years, 2016's Smash the System, saw Haines ditching the conceptual architecture of past outings in favor of a more singles-oriented, though no less idiosyncratic, set of new material. ~ Andy Kellman