'Now I'm A Cowboy' apparently had a painful gestation, but the results were hugely impressive. More guitar-led than the band's 'New Wave' debut, Luke Haines turns his bleary eye on the world with such crunching soundscapes as 'Lenny Valentino', 'Chinese Bakery' and the mordant closer, 'Daughter Of A Child'. None-stop brilliance, from one of the all-time great UK lyricists. Give him a chance.
on 26 January 2000
Luke Haines seems to have the ability to transend above the particular tastes of the moment as dictated in the music press and connect with his audience on a "devotion inspiring" level. Probably the most well known of The Auteurs albums, "Now i'm a cowboy" is also the most accessable. Their influence on the new crop of British songwriters can be heard with impressive effect on bands such as "Hal & Roger" If you are unfamiliar with "The Auteurs", this album is well worth taking a chance on.
Now I know there is an old rock music adage something to the effect that an artist's second album often proves to be a (the?) 'difficult one' (take The Clash, Television and The Stone Roses to name but three - mind you, it can't be easy to follow-up a masterpiece, I guess), but, in the case of Luke Haines' brainchild, The Auteurs, this second effort merely served to dispel the validity of any such theory. Once again, the man of acerbic wit, poetic lyric, haunting melody and acute social commentary broke the rules and delivered an(other) album shot through with pop music genius, further justifying his (then) recently assumed position as (arguably) the most astute musical scribe on the 'English condition' since Ray Davies.
Indeed, I still find it difficult to rank this album, quality-wise, against its predecessor New Wave and I even know of people who think the first two albums were subsequently bettered by 1996's After Murder Park. What is, however, in no doubt (in my mind, at least) is that Now I'm A Cowboy is a stunning record, without a weak moment, and sounding just a fresh (and relevant) today as when Haines penned it nearly two decades ago. In fact, even if you simply took the first two singles from the album, New French Girlfriend, with its the sweeping melody and power chords in Haines' tale of international romantic solace ('Alain, René, Vanessa and me') - the best take on the subject of girlfriends since Jonathan Richman's - and album opener, the vibrant tour-de-force that is Lenny Valentino, you would have the makings of a killer album.
But here, Haines sustains this quality throughout, from the magnum opus feel of his sneering take on upward mobility in The Upper Classes ('You can't come here no more, unless you use the tradesman's door'), the general theme of which he continues to expound upon in Life Classes/Life Model (there's those power chords again), through to the more restrained beauty of songs such as Brainchild, where Haines rails against prized intellectualism, I'm A Rich Man's Toy, an invigoratingly dynamic take on apparent social exploitation, Modern History, a typically scathing Haines epic assault on the illusory nature of fame and, for me best of all, the sublime Underground Movies (the last two of which songs feature James Banbury's outstanding contribution on cello).
Along with other Auteurs albums, New Wave and After Murder Park, an essential album for the collection.
on 12 December 2002
Angst crooning , superbly poised guitar bellyaching , look for 90's indie rock in the dictionary and this will be close by, but dont be fooled this album is one that will remain in the gold collection forever. Gladly not dragged through the fame spotlight treadmill in the truest sense and for me it is to its credit, at least I never noticed if it was.
Perhaps the message on these song is too riske, but it is beatiful to hear such brilliantly written and performed music played with some passion.
Get your air guitars out and prepare to jump around your living room a bit, and although the subject matter is mostly depressing I feel stragely uplifted by the whole experience. I am mad.