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Every Home Should Have One,
This review is from: New Wave (Audio CD)
Thinking again about master song-writer Luke Haines 'entry onto the scene' with this brilliant 1993 debut album by his band The Auteurs, I was reflecting on the album's title - no doubt a slightly (OK more than slightly) tongue-in-cheek comment on (I might suggest) Haines' view of his music vs. the music/fashion that predated his album by 15 or so years. Of course, the other thing that New Wave was 'famous for' (at least in Mr Haines' memory, no doubt) was being pipped at the post by Suede's debut album for the 1993 Mercury Music Prize (just to reassure you, Luke, given the chance I would definitely have voted for New Wave - I mean it's not even as if it was up against Dog Man Star!).
What is maybe (though probably not) remarkable about New Wave is that it still sounds just as fresh and inspiring (timeless, even) now as it did 20 years ago, and (in my book) still represents the best thing that Haines recorded in any guise (Auteurs, Baader Meinhof, Black Box Recorder, North Sea Scrolls or solo projects). As has often been cited, whereas Brett Anderson & co. (certainly in Anderson's dreams, I suspect) were firmly ensconced in the 'Bowie sound' camp (Diamond Dogs era?), Mr Haines and Co. were undoubtedly closer to Ray Davis' Kinks in terms of their lyrical dexterity and (unfailing) pop sensibility - indeed, it was (and still is, listen to North Sea Scrolls) Haines' infectious sense of melody and song dynamics that always shone through, despite a feeling that the man was rather sneering behind it all.
New Wave contains 12 songs -each a pop gem in its own right. Haines' lyrics are, as ever, witty and insightful (albeit perhaps slightly lacking some of the vitriol he was later to display), with a focus on issues emanating no doubt from his (perhaps rare) brushes with pop music stardom, such as failed (or misplaced) ambition, a dig at the US rock scene, the perils of a child showbiz celebrity and a general distrust of authority figures, as well as perhaps more mundane ways of spending your time (itinerant burglary and car valet parking). Particular favourites would include the heavenly acoustic feel of the songs Junk Shop Clothes, with its subtle melody disguising Haines' ironic take on music fans (hippies) propensity for wearing such, and the wonderful Valet Parking, featuring the best glockenspiel this side of Sunday Morning, a tale of the humdrum, and with a killer riff to finish. Of the songs with a rockier feel it would have to be How Could I Be Wrong, Haines' self-confident (possibly arrogant) tale, featuring some rocky guitar from the man himself, together with James Banbury's cello adding an ethereal quality, and album highlight the near-epic Idiot Brother, built around a great riff, and providing a vibrant tale of sibling rivalry, and for me one of Haines' finest ever songs.
Incidentally, the original album release also contained a free 7-inch single with two other great songs, the pulsating Subculture (They Can't Find Him) and the brief acoustic ditty She Might Take A Train (both included on the Luke Haines Is Dead triple CD compilation).
Whilst, for me, New Wave just about edges out the follow-up Now I'm A Cowboy, all 4 of the band's albums are excellent with (for me) How I Learned To Love The Boot Boys bringing up the rear behind After Murder Park (rated by some as the band's best). The Luke Haines Is Dead compilation is also well worth having for the alternative song versions and other rare Haines material.