#13: The Auteurs – Bailed Out (1993)
New Wave, the first album by The Auteurs – possibly the most agreeably acerbic album by The Auteurs – arrived on the agenda just as a strange, goon squad dynamic began to permeate throughout the (British) indie scene – and as such this record instantly sounded somewhat out of place. Not stranded exactly, nor even wilfully anti-vogue, but readily and thematically aloof; if the default setting of mid-nineties indie-pop was defined by mainstream attention jumping into bed with derivative indie-kid bandwagoneering, then New Wave is an album aligned with a diffident, intellectual iconoclasm. Or in other words, it doesn’t matter a jot that at the time this band were – initially at least – hyped out of their trousers by a music press in the final throes of relevance; this is a record as resonant now as it was eighteen years ago.
Luke Haines has always pitched his songs somewhere between refined melancholia and a seductive causticity (The Auteurs, like all of his projects, is a Haines vehicle; it’s supplemented by a revolving cast of background collaborators and hired hands, but the tricks, twists and feints are always and undeniably his). The end result is a sharpness of sentiment, songs loaded with faded glamour, refreshing cynicism, spiky anticipation.
And this particular song? The arrangement helps; acoustic guitar, supplanted by waspish bass, then fluid cello, then vibrato pianoforte. But there’s also something that sparkles within the vocal narrative – the ennui of popularity a seen through Evelyn Waugh’s glassy, trigger-fingered stare – we’ve all attended that type of party, populated by those we’d pay money to avoid.
In short this is an especially modern song, the year of arrival irrelevant. You could cut yourself on Auteurs records; careful now.
The Auteurs / Bailed Out