Libertines The Libertines (Rough Trade)
Still ringing in my ears, the news of Pete Doherty's failure to
appear at his scheduled Barfly show, then coded messages and subsequently
an impromtu gig in his flat (sounds cosy), but above all this, his expulsion
from the band he calls his own, substance abuse and his adamant remark
that come what may he will be appearing with The Libertines at their
Reading Festival date(?). Is all this just a smoke screen, or just another
in the long running story of the rock'n'roll band? Well, fact or fiction
it's their latest and second album we are here to review, so without
N: Yes! I may have found that long prophesied - 'Difficult Second
Album', as on first listen this just sounded a disjointed mess, but
the 'press' that came along with the pre-release did describe "an
album that gets better with every listen", but is this not just
another way of trying to explain something that is just not very good.
Well having listened to the album, several times, although it does improve
on initial impressions, this could well be a document of troubled times
more than anything. There are stand-out moments on the album, coming
in the form of the cracking opening tune, 'Can't Stand Me Now', as well
as the only track the 'pr' refers to (outside of the recent single and
track I've just mentioned) that of fan-favourite 'What Became Of The
Likely Lads', in the context of the rest of the album, it's easy to
T: The thing is, I think The Libertines are possibly about to
suffer a dose of Stone Roses syndrome. I remember rushing out and buying
The Second Coming, and thinking Wow! What a great
album, and then reading the subsequent press; the album was mauled.
Then hey presto, ten years later, everyones banging on about what
a brilliant record it was after all. The problem was, their debut was
just so outstanding, it didnt matter WHAT they released next
it was always going to get a hammering. I feel this is exactly the same
scenario we are facing now, with The Libertines, as in ten years
time, I expect Up the Bracket to be included in countless
50 CDs You Must Own lists that music magazines are so fond
of right now.
N: You may well have hit the proverbial nail on the
head in your comparison. I can in no way compare the two bands,
but you may prove right that given the passing of time ears will warm
to this, but the fact still remains (as I think you are trying to say)
this is not a patch on their debut.
T: Whilst not as instant as its predecessor, is still an extremely
enjoyable listen, and the intricacies of each track become more and
more apparent with each play.
Let me attempt to quantify what I am saying here. Sandwiched between
the wonderful recent single, Cant Stand Me Now, and
the stompalong anthem that is What Became of the Likely Lads
there are several gems including Tomblands, which resembles
Sandinista era Clash at their very best, the social commentary
of the beautifully observed Campaign of Hate complete
with the amusing (and accurate) lyric Poor kids dressing like
theyre rich/ Rich kids dressing like theyre poor/ White
kids talking like theyre black, and the odd doo-wop diversion
of the charming What Katie Did.
Apart from these nuggets, we have the more familiar tuneful noise
that we are accustomed to from Doherty and co, such as the fantastically
shouty Narcissist, the awesome but remarkably simple riff
of Last Post on the Bugle or the impressive restraint of
single contenders Music When the Lights Go Out and The
Man Who Would Be King.
N: I can see what youre trying to get across here and although
immediate cannot be considered in the vocabulary of this
album, the lyrics used in the song to which you refer are alright, but
I will conceed that in the song The Man Who Would Be King,
it has it all, from a corking title, song and lryics that build in the
imagination a sense of defiance. But how do you defend the disjointed
sound I heard?
T: The instrumentation on several tracks here (Dont
Be Shy and Arbeit Nacht Frei in particular) may sound
shambolic and careless. Those of us who have ever been in a band, however,
or classically trained, will be able to see instantly how deliberate
those sloppy moments are a bit like the much lauded
Violent Femmes jams on several of their tracks and
realise the level of difficulty in pulling something like this off as
effectively as The Libertines have.
N: Sorry but with that comment you have allowed any resemblance
of credibility to pass right out of the window. So were all supposed
to have been classically trained to observe this album correctly, or
have picked up a guitar and have knocked out White Riot
in a reasonably fashioned manner. To listen to any record all you need
is a pair of ears and just to show Im in no way discriminating,
I once sold an old Hi-Fi to a guy who was hard of hearing, it was the
vibrations he observed the music from. Perhaps you mayve observed
this correctly, maybe The Libertines were just trying to
be too clever.
Whos right, judge for yourself. I think its fairly apparent
from our tussles that if youre a fan youre not going to
be swayed (but be careful of what is described blind faith).
An album such as this one may not win the band any new fans, that is
until sometime down the road, when a new breed of wannabes, hear these
sounds for the first time at the Uni disco and judge them to be the
10 comandments, or to be more precise 14. 7/10