Picks and Pans Review: New Wave

updated 06/28/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/28/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Auteurs

Judging by his lyrics, frontman Luke Haines seems cursed with the artiste's love-it-and-loathe-it attitude toward success. That ambivalence could be a mere pose. What's undeniable is that Haines, 27, has an insinuating, reedy voice, lots of energy and a capacity for crafting insistent melodies.

Haines's lead guitar is articulate but simple; nothing detracts from the lyrics. In "Starstruck," an ex-vaudevillian mocks his own second-rateness: "Can't get an agent/...So I moved/To the backlot/Where I exercise daily." The hilarious "Home Again" is the anthem of the rootless house-sitter, confessing to "Looking through photos/At the back of your drawer/The way you looked/When you were small/...It's cool/To be in your home again." Haines's threadbare English hauteur and genuine wit make America's grunge stars sound like truculent 8-year-olds. (Caroline)

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