Luke Haines has been honing his signature amalgam of wry, Dickensian Brit-pop, righteous pub folk, and gadfly art rock since the early 1990s with bands like the Auteurs
, Black Box Recorder
, and Baader Meinhof
. Is Alive & Well & Living in Buenos Aires: Heavy Frenz the Solo Anthology 2001-2017
dispenses with that era in favor of an exhaustive dissection of the English eccentric's prolific solo career, which began in 2001 when he was commissioned to write the soundtrack for the cult film Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry
. The four-part set is comprised of a generous 80 tracks culled from Haines' bumper crop of solo outings, with the fourth installment providing the biggest carrot on a stick, as it consists entirely of unreleased material -- with predictably amusing sleeve notes from the artist himself. Haines could probably benefit from a more streamlined and concise collection of his work, but he's shown little interest in brevity over the years, and all of the best moments from his post-band career are here. Heavy, Frenz
, like most of his studio albums, is simultaneously difficult, thrilling, ponderous, and compelling. Longtime fans will find plenty of grist for the mill, but for the uninitiated, Haines will likely remain a singular but elusive character, which is probably exactly the way he likes it.