The Auteurs, Now I’m A Cowboy

Matthew Fritch

By Matthew Fritch

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Now I'm A Cowboy

The Auteurs
Superfuzzed glam-rock hooks and wandering-melody guitar leads

Try as he might, Luke Haines can't divorce himself from Britpop. Even the title of the Auteurs frontman's sour-grapes memoir (Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in its Downfall) reluctantly acknowledges his hand in the U.K.'s mid-'90s movement toward centrist guitar rock. But when it comes to an inspection of the genre's familiar foot soldiers, the Auteurs were significantly less laddish than their lager-swilling peers; like fellow outsider Jarvis Cocker, Haines leers the words to love songs, infused with scathing class commentary and framed by the details of ordinary life. "There's nothing wrong with inherited wealth/ As long as you melt the silver yourself," sings Haines on Now I'm a Cowboy track "The Upper Classes." With its superfuzzed glam-rock hooks and wandering-melody guitar leads, the 1994 album feels a lot like Suede. Suede, however, never had the sense of humor necessary to release a Christmas single titled "Unsolved Child Murders" or pen Cowboy's snide "New French Girlfriend" (a track Art Brut would practically rewrite a decade later with a more comic eye). Now I'm a Cowboy rushes out of the gate with the barnstorming riffs of "Lenny Valentino," but its primary focus is on fluid midtempo songs that let Haines drip out decadent-sounding accounts from the class war, whether it's the uptown girl slumming it in "Chinese Bakery" or the abused arm candy in "I'm A Rich Man's Toy." It's a cruel pity that Haines's distaste for being lumped in with Britpop prevented the production of more albums like Now I'm a Cowboy. He's clearly so good at his job.