If you'd told anyone who'd given this album a try when it came out in 1993 that Auteurs auteur Luke Haines would end up writing a memoir called Bad Vibes 16 years later, no one would be a bit surprised. What else could you expect? Cynicism is what Haines sold, and while he'd show some tenderness alongside cold-water diva Sarah Nixey in Black Box Recorder later in the decade, short, sharp and sardonic is the rule on his perfectly-written debut. Some lyrics: "You'll be drunk the rest of your life" ("Junk Shop Clothes"); "It's never too soon to tread the boards/ I was involved at age five/ My career took its first nosedive" ("Starstruck"); "Rifling through your possessions and stuff/ The things that you are ashamed of" ("Home Again").
The kick here is the fact that all those jibes sound giddy, thanks in part to Haines's wryly parched tone (the truly ugly stuff would come later, when Haines decided he was into terrorist chic), but mostly to his tunes. Haines clearly learned his trade from the Kinks and the Smiths; his memoir may have been subtitled Britpop and My Part in Its Downfall, but New Wave is a key Britpop building block. Coming out contemporaneously with Suede's debut (which beat the Auteurs for the 1993 Mercury Music Prize), New Wave is tune-heavier than Blur or Oasis or Pulp at their height — and the Auteurs' relative obscurity means that the album still hits like a well-aimed fist.