8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2000
How I Learned to Love the Bootboys immediately strikes you as something of an odd fish. You would half-expect a set of stripped-to-the-bone songs with viola accompaniment that stayed in the mould of the excellent After Murder Park. What you get, however, is a pile of distinctly 80's sounding synths, some lavish strings, anti-nostalgic lyrics - but it all works. There are some brilliantly crafted songs on show here; and they seem to work even better as part of a complete album rather than merely individual songs. The Rubettes is a fantastic opener, reviving the 60's "Sugar Baby Love" refrain, the title track glistens with 80's depression and the closing 'Future Generations' is rousing and subtle at the same time. Luke Haines maintains his position as one of the leading British songwriters of the 90s.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2006
How I Learned to Love the Bootboys is a strange record... Haines has mentioned in the past that many of the songs were written as part of a planned concept album about a gang of feral kids in the 70's with special powers relating to ESP (see the Luke Haines is Dead compilation for more), only he became bored with the concept halfway through, and merged it with some songs he'd written about his childhood. Some of the songs are as dark and as menacing as those found on the third Auteurs album After Murder Park, only with a sparser sound that seems to have been developed during the recording of the first Black Box Recorder album from the year before (both John Moore and Sarah Nixey make guest appearances here). The album also uses an almost situationist style sense of humour, with Haines contributing a host of contradictory lyrics, derogatory mid-song put-downs and a hefty dose of self-reference, an idea that would continue throughout Haines' work since, most obviously on the final BBR album Passionoia, and on his 2001 solo-debut-proper, The Oliver Twist Manifesto.
As a result, the album could be seen as being nothing more than a private joke at the expense of the listener (or perhaps even at the expense of the record company...?? something that the reviews of Haines's 2003 orchestral compilation Das Capital implied)... and yet, to suggest that would be to completely dismiss the strong melodies, sophisticated hooks and complex musical arrangements.
The album opens with The Rubettes, which introduces the idea of songs rooted in the late 1960's, or, moreover, songs that are set against a backdrop of popular culture. The track was intended as a Black Box Recorder single, which explains the appearance of Nixey and Moore, as well as the stop-start song structure and the delightfully subversive chorus references to Sugar Baby Love. The next track, 1967, is another standout, referencing the year that Haines was born, whilst seeming to be both about his parents ("1967 / no pop in our record collection / The Beatles and Stones mean nothing to us / I think we should count our blessings / in 1967") and about the lack of musical progression since the late 60's pop heyday ("1999 / no pop in our record collection / no records on the radio station / it means nothing to us... / since 1967"). The title track meanwhile seems to nod back to Now I'm Cowboy's themes of different class, with Haines distancing himself from the trendy class referentialism of Pulp by adding the sinister chorus refrain; "Oh yeah, alright, who's scared, tonight? Oh yeah, alright, who's scared, to dance?".
Your Gang/Our Gang is a slightly humours glam-pastiche, knowingly referencing the Glitter band - which demonstrates that Haines, as a satirist, is every bit as daring as Chris Morris - whilst also acting a short interlude between How I Learned to Love the Bootboys and the more New-Wave-like track, Some Changes. Here, Haines offers a wash of condescending and contradictory statements, including a rumination on fans who think they have the right to tell him how to create his work ("this kid comes up to me / says, 'you gotta raise your game' / this kid is half my age / '...pleased to meet you, Mr. Haines'"), a jibe seemingly aimed at his peers ("got a letter from a friend / it says 'you're scum, you're gonna die'") and the album's proto-mission-statement, "just hate nostalgia". The next three tracks, School, Johnny and the Hurricanes and The South Will Rise Again offer the undiluted core of the album, with Haines managing to achieve the right balance between nostalgic rumination, pop cultural references and personal biography... all the while making sure to include some fantastic hooks, melodies and an overall approach to production that seems to reference every single style of music that he'd previously dabbled in (light pop, Britpop, glam-pop, grunge and proto-electronic minimalism).
Asti Spumante is a song I'm not as keen on - relying heavily on a repetitive structure and Haines's truly venomous vocals, including mantra-like lines like "it's a little less tat in your council flat... it's a little less flat in your council tat" and the quite Mark E. Smith like couplet "your old Ford Zephyr, your old Ford Zephyr won't start, start, start, start, start!!" - while Sick of Hari Krisna has a gentler sound that recalls past tracks like Daughter of a Child, After Murder Park and Unsolved Child Murder. Lights Out and Future Generation (another song that points back to the ESP kids concept) bring the album to a close on a low-key note - with the former offering up a lyric that might recall the terrorist themes of Baader Meinhof - whilst the latter gives us more of that self-aggrandising self-reference, in which Haines prophesises of a future in which his music gets the respect and attention it has previously been denied ("of course I love the old songs / from New Wave to Murder Park / the future generation / will get it from the start").
How I Learned to Love the Bootboys is probably the weakest of The Auteur's albums, with too many of the songs sounding like dusted-down Black Box Recorder outtakes or the sound of Haines' personal and professional bitterness set to music. It's still a fine record in it's own right, with songs like The Rubettes, 1967, Some Changes, School, Johnny and the Hurricanes and The South Will Rise Again all standing tall alongside previous delights like Bailed Out, Home Again, Chinese Bakery, Lenny Valentino, Unsolved Child Murder, Light Aircraft on Fire (...the list is quite endless!!!). If you're new to The Auteurs, I would suggest getting this album first, before progressing onto New Wave, Now I'm a Cowboy and After Murder Park, so to experience his greatness in ascent!! If you already have those albums... then this is certainly worth getting regardless.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2001
This is the most accessible of the Auteurs records and, with the possible exception of After Murder Park, the most complex. It positively bristles with Haines' baleful misanthropy, which makes Stanley Kubrick look like Steven Spielberg. But Haines is not one to take his audience for granted, and sweetens the pill with no shortage of hooks and choruses. Best of all, he never lets a song overstay its welcome - two or three minutes is typical, which is easily enough to leave you wanting much more.
Haines once said that all of his albums are concept albums, and here the concept is the past, mostly the 70s. His witty anti-nostalgia tops and tails the album, from the sublime single "The Rubettes" ("the future's made of coal, the past is made of gold") to the heartbreaking "Future Generation," where Haines imagines a, well, future generation nostalgic for the Auteurs. In accepting his fate to be commercially a minor player in the world of pop, while simultaneously asserting his genius ("this music could destroy a nation") he marks the peak of a very great talent.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Was (is?) Luke Haines the most criminally underestimated (ignored?) songwriter of his generation? I think I know what Mr Haines' answer to this question would be. How I Learned To Love The Bootboys is the fourth (and almost certainly final) album by Haines' band The Auteurs, who, for me, represent the creative pinnacle of Haines' ouevre. Having owned this album since its release in 1999, recent listenings have caused me to revise my opinion of its merits - in an upwards direction. Whilst it does not quite achieve the consistency, or level of inspiration, of the first three Auteurs albums, it contains a number of songs that are right up there with Haines' best. Indeed, the album undoubtedly has the greatest mix of styles of any Auteurs (and probably any Haines) album.
As Haines himself has said there is a good deal of autobiographical content throughout the album. The album opener The Rubettes is (to me, at least) a marvellous evocation of schoolboy fascination with all things pop, referencing the glam rock band's 1974 hit Sugar Baby Love, as well as other stalwarts of the era in Messrs. Glitter and Wood, before Haines concludes by quipping 'You developed late, weren't the 90s great?'. Autobiographical buttons are then pushed with two out-and-out masterpieces, the Mr Haines Snr.-narrated 1967 (the year of Luke's birth), which appears to lambast Haines' parents for providing no musical basis for his childhood, and then School, a song with as sublime (and ominous) a melody as anything Haines has written (e.g. a la Junk Shop Clothes and Valet Parking) and with a biting narrative rejecting the place and people of childhood upbringing.
The perennial Haines' themes of youth, disillusion and violence are brought together brilliantly in the title track, as Haines repeatedly sneers during the song's chorus 'who's scared tonight, who's scared to dance?'. Two songs then allude to Haines seemingly wanting/needing to move on career-wise - first in Some Changes, which Haines narrates as a tale of a 'rejected career' and the need to move on, and then second, in the epic album closer Future Generation, Haines' brilliant (tongue-only-slightly-in-cheek) epitaph to himself, where he, perhaps rather optimistically, foretells of a time when he will be recognised as the true genius that he is, stating solemnly that 'the future generation will catch my rising star'.
These aforementioned songs are the standouts for me, but there is probably only one throwaway song here (Sick of Hari Krisna).
On a final note, Haines' band sound as good (musically and production-wise) as they have ever done.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Got to admit to not being as bowled over by The Auteurs debut 'New Wave' as the rest of the world was - this, for me, is where the true nasty genius of Luke Haines began to assert itself, lyrics that bite harder than a rottweiler in heat, those perfect little punchy, crunchy chords that sound so simple but nearly every other band manage to mess up. And 'The Rubettes' - I flippin' loved the Rubettes when I was 10 or so, (I bought their debut album and there was a free Rubettes 'hat' in it which tore when I was trying to put it togteher) and this song is the perfect encapsulation of the sweet naffness of the 1970s. Glorious, glorious stuff.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2001
Just to redress the balance a little bit, against the other reviewees who seemed slightly underwhelmed by the album... it's tense and breathless and perfectly drawn, not a note is wasted, every sound on the record serves a purpose, as a whole it's geniusly detailed... at 35 minutes in length it works fantastically as a massively exciting pop record. Sorry for this, would never usually write a review on here, but Luke Haines is almost certainly the best British songwriter of the the last ten years/his generation/ever? possibly, and this record is as deserving of this praise as every other one of his masterpieces (all of which also require purchase; the total fantasticness of the other 3 Auteurs ones, plus 2 brilliant Black Box Recorder albums, and the ace Baader Meinhof record). He has two solo albums out later this year, y'know... i think you know what to do.
8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2000
Auteurs' frontman Luke Haines has never hidden the fact that his favoruite decade was the 70's. This obsession with the decade has gained further momentum with this new album which appears to be a glam-rock lovers' album. Despite references to the 50's, 60's and 90's on this, the sound is unmistakably Seventies with a 90's gloss finish. In truth this isn't one of the Auteurs's best albums as it doesn't contain enough variety to last the course of the album (which is sensibly short at under 40 minutes long) and Haines's hoarse voice is rather limited. However, the winning melodies shine through on songs of the quality of 'Some Changes', 'Asti Spumanti' (the most modern sounding of the songs on offer here) and 'Future Generation' but at other times it is clear that whilst the similarly-influenced Suede have gone on to sell more records, for Haines's 'gang' the law of diminishing returns applies.
8 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2001
After my first listen to the CD I strangely feel it resembles the old Hong Kong kung-fu TV series in the 70s. Through out the album there are out-dated stuff. Yet this didn't mean a successful resemble of old days like Tom Jones or David Bowie. All the tracks on the album, except the single "The Rubettes", are full of incomplete ideas and melody. "1967", for instance, idea is good, but they are not well elaborated and put into good music. For one thing, the songs are too short. For another, it seems Luke want to hide the out-fashion and substandard of the album with heavy electronic sound. Yet these electronic arrangement make me feel but annoying. I have never completed listening the CD at one time, no matter how hard I try. Maybe just this is not my cup of tea, anyway I can't praise any songs of this CD.
1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2014
Lawrence Hayward had/has/will have talent. This bloke didn't have/doesn't have/will never have talent.
A big ego goes a long way with a lot of people. Not with me if the ego hasn't any talent to back it up.
As is the case here. Avoid this and anything else he's done. Overwhelming case of style over substance.
0 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 7 January 2013
This lot survived for far too long, on far too many record labels, with far too much £££ apparently thrown at them.
Showgirl was a decent enough tune, but Luke Haines is no songwriter.