I’ve had this for a good few weeks now and it was released to the public on the 7th October…and, despite the bumph that came with the CD declaring it a “none concept album”, I’ve been frantically analysing and trying to work out what the concept is or what the hell Mr Haines is on.  There does seem to be a thread running through the album; Is it about ritual magick, is it about radical Marxist groups or is it just a collection of random tunes that could only be the product of an absolute genius?luke_haines_smash_the_system_pic

You may or my not be familiar with Haines’ work, but you may have heard in passing the bands he was associated with  – Black Box Recorder, The Auteurs and Baader Meinhof… you may have even seen the film made about him called Art Will Save The World. None of this need concern you!

What I do know about Smash The System is that on first listening I played it from end to end three times in immediate succession.

Smash The System opens with the tremendously catchy broken pop of Ulrike Meinhof’s Brain is Missing (it had previously been kept in a cardboard box at the University of Tubingen) and from the off you know you’re in for a sonic and lyrical treat – “There’s a hullabaloo at Stasi HQ” being one line that stands out. Black Bunny (“Im Not Vince Taylor”) comes next and has a synth noise that is immediately just so right but at the same time slightly off-kilter and disturbing. Ritual Majick is possibly the pick of the bunch for me, but the Power of The Witch is a close contender too. The superbly filthy tribute to female sex organ, done in an almost too lifelike to be true Marc Bolan parody, is a sing along stonker of a tune and the songs just keep coming.

Whether it’s the slightly whimsical “The Incredible String Band” (“They might take a while to get into, but you should give them a go”), or the closing track “Are You Mad?” and its slightly melancholic air, Smash The System is ‘all winner and no filler’.

I was raving about this tune to one of the guys at an agency recently and he said he’d go back to the office and have a listen, contacting me a few hours later with a “not for me!” comment and I suppose that’s the thing with this record – not everyone is going to get it. I do!

Yes, this is the best record, bar none that I have heard this year!

Stuart Smith

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