“Of course I love the old songs, from New Wave to Murder Park” sings Luke Haines on “Future Generations”, from the fourth (we weren’t expecting another one…!) album by The Auteurs. See what you can do when you cut out the hallucinogenics and stop throwing yourself off Spanish walls? Isn’t life grand and there for the living after all?
Having succeeded admirably in his intention, stated or otherwise, to alienate what was left of The Auteurs’ fan-base with the brutalism of After Murder Park, it took Luke Haines another five years to release a fourth album under the band’s name. In the meantime he had indulged his twin passions of seventies terrorism and funk with Baader Meinhof, an album whose advance promos were sent to music magazines under the pretence that they had been delivered to the record label’s offices with express instructions to pass them on or face the deadly consequences. As you do.
Then, In 1998, together with Sarah Nixey and John Moore, Haines released England Made Me, their first album together as Black Box Recorder. WIth Nixey providing cut-glass lead vocals, England Made Me might lull you into a safe world of waves ruled, but it’s really only the passive to After Murder Park’s aggressive. “Life is unfair. Kill yourself or get over it”, Nixey sings through “Child Psychology”. Moore and Haines somehow managed to provide Nixey with a single, “The Facts of Life” worthy of Top of the Pops.
And then, 1999, and a fourth and final Auteurs album. It starts with “The Rubettes”, Haines cocking a snook at – or possibly embracing – the 70s one-hit mega-wonders, purloining their most famous lyric for his chorus. Then back to 1967, the year of Haines’ birth, and a song that could at least partially be taking place in the mind of his own father (and given Haines’ future predilection for getting into the head of, among others, 70s and 80s British wrestlers, this is entirely plausible). Indeed, it’s with the benefit (does it ever offer anything else) of hindsight that How I Learned to Love The Bootboys makes the most sense. In 1999 it was a slightly perplexing combination of glam, disco, something that if it wasn’t Britpop was at the very least doing a passable impression (“Some Changes”), minimal electro (“Asti Spumante”) and anti-mysticism (“Sick of Hare Krisna”). Mixed in was “Lights Out”, typically Auteurs but with a bit of Radiohead space-indie engineered into the mix.
Of course, no-one bought How I Learned to Love the Bootboys, but if you haven’t cottoned on by now to the fact that this is immaterial, then you haven’t been paying attention. Or perhaps you’ve been paying attention, but cherry-picking the songs, the quotes, the moments at the same time: either way, Luke would approve.
To conclude the story of The Auteurs, I offer two quotes. First, Haines, from “Future Generations”:
Future generations will catch my falling star
And now, Paul Tickell, who directed Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry’ for which Haines provided the soundtrack:
Success is more and more measured on financial, monetary terms. Obviously on that level Luke is not successful
I’ll leave you to decide with whom you side. Perhaps you will conclude that they are both right.