A man whose reputation rests on a pathological lack of sentiment and loathing of hollow nostalgia, Luke Haines is not obviously suited to grand career retrospectives. Still, Das Capital
is just that: the nastiest songs from his four Auteurs
albums, two solo efforts and one release as Baader Meinhof
. Of course, he's too perverse for a mere greatest hits compilation. The songs here are re-recorded, with bombastic orchestral arrangements placed behind Haines's voice, which is more sneering and vituperative than ever.
As an exercise in self-aggrandisement, both literal and ironic, Das Capital works brilliantly: Haines even contributes fulsome reviews of his back catalogue in the sleevenotes. Three new songs (notably "The Mitford Sisters") also suggest there's plenty of bad blood left in him yet. But the greatness of The Auteurs, and the reason why they were always superior to Haines's "pop" project Black Box Recorder, is that his songs are best suited to spindly, arthritic accompaniments: guitar, bass, drums, a distant creak of cello. Ultimately, Das Capital is a grandiose satire, an opulent folly, and an album whose primary use is to remind us of the excellence found on the original records by this most callous observer of English idiocies. --John Mulvey