It's all lizardy strut on the opening title track. In fact, it's quite lizardy strut on "Meet Me At The Airport" as well. I'm not sure where he's coming from lyrically though. Maybe he's too subtle and well-observed for me to pick up. "There's Going To Be An Accident" pairs a winning squelchy bassline with glinting malevolence about people in black BMWs meeting with accidents and "fire magic in the head" after some dodgy acid: "You're going to go down sooner or later". It's a concept album about terrorism; but does that mean it's just a biographical trip in their extremist shoes.
"Mogadishu" has even harder intent, muttering darkly about moronic pop stars and "when the fireworks hit you/In Mogadishu": "Christ was an extremist/With kamikaze soul". The same arch devilment runs through all the music, hard and balanced. A basilisk of sneering irony looking about itself with iron and arsenic in its eyeballs. What I'm not sure of is what the concept behind the concept is. The violins and cellos sound poised, the production is crisp and dry; the lyrics even crisper and drier. But is it just a 1996 interpretation of outdated left-wing German terrorists? It was a time of The Enemy Within in US fiction and a muddy sense of ethical foreign policy in the UK. It's hard to place where this album might fit in there; but Luke Haines does not give the impression of someone that needs to fit in.
"This is the hate socialist collective/All mental health corrected" Luke broods on "Back On The Farm". As things are unravelling for the RAF (as on the paranoiac "Kill Ramirez"), the lyrics wind in tighter to the main players and away from wider political objectives. Which weren't mentioned much in the first place. Summed up again in the closing coda that repeats part of the opener: "I had a dream/That every dog has its day", but still expressed in terms of Rudi and Uwe. Just a bunch of people hanging out.
Dry, literary perhaps, difficult to pin down and a little unsatisfactory. But I like it.
Rating: Basilisk Malevolence out of Dry Pop