The most refined of England's bands manages to refine itself even further on their fourth disc. How I Learned to Love the Bootboys is Luke Haines' most immediate sounding release to date, and even though his claim that each of the record's 12 tracks are singles sounds a bit highfalutin, he's not far off. While each of the Auteurs' three prior LPs are equally arresting, there are points at which the mind tends to wander, but not here. Haines' familiar themes of Englishness, youth, and hooliganism remain, playing like another short movie. The cohesiveness of the record is no small feat, given the wide-ranging sounds and moods.
Opening bedroom tale "The Rubettes" features a delicate, Brill Building lullaby chorus while a repetitive staccato riff offplays the fragility. The title track's quiet chaos has Haines' whispered vocals buttressed by sirens, percolating electro bleeps, and a graceful dub bassline. "Your Gang Our Gang" relocates the fight scenes of Grease and West Side Story to the streets of London with equal doses of menace and tongue-in-cheek. Tough and joyful at the same time.
Haines and Pete Hofmann attain the band's best production yet. Haines' guitar has never sounded so fittingly sharp while avoiding abrasiveness. Even guitar guru Steve Albini couldn't coax such an ideal sound from his guitar. Haines' supporting cast punches in with some excellent work, providing all the necessary support for an excellent record. Surely the few who have stuck around since New Wave are being spoiled rotten by the Auteurs' remarkable consistency.