Follow Us on Twitter

Dirty Pretty Things - Romance At Short Notice

Dirty Pretty Things, Romance At Short Notice

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

WITH their sophomore album Dirty Pretty Things prove two things: they no longer exist in the shadow of The Libertines and they’re a pretty decent guitar band.

Romance At Short Notice is a serviceable return, if nothing spectacular. It’s certainly more mature than 2006’s Waterloo To Anywhere but the punk-fuelled guitar riffs and gunshot rhythms remain intact and there’s no real surprises anywhere.

Frontman (and ex-Libertine) Carl Barat’s “cigarette-scarred” vocals – we’ll call them dusky – are as distinct as ever, while there’s plenty of melodising and “la la la”-ing. But in spite of some generally breezy guitar anthems, they somehow lack the warmth of The Kooks, the sheer bravado of Kaiser Chiefs, or the emotional clout of Oasis at their peak.

We mention those bands because there are traces of them all in many of the songs. Plastic Hearts, for instance, adopts the breezy, acoustic indie-pop style of the Gallaghers with the “la la la” chants of Kaiser Chiefs, and is an engaging listen.

While the horns and guitars of Tired Of England, with its shots at drink culture and the Queen, is very Kooks-ish and lyrically very assured. It’s a chant-along highlight.

Come Closer, meanwhile, could well be an Oasis B-side – it’s an acoustic ballad that talks about being in love and Barat’s “one and only”. The guitar work, especially, is evidence of the band at their most appealing.

Further highlights come in the form of Hippy Son, which delights by mixing some fantastically gritty punk rock riffs and aching, lived-in vocals with a superb chorus. It’s arguably the album’s crowning achievement.

But elsewhere, the formula is a little less endearing. Buzzards And Crows is an OK entry point, even though it never really does anything amazing, while songs like Kicks Or Consumption and Chinese Dogs are just plain ordinary.

Some of the observations in the lyrics are quite astute, even angry, but once again they’re not really saying anything we don’t already know about the state of modern England.

It remains to be seen whether album number three from the band will step it up further and establish them as “a great British act”, rather than just a mild diversion. The potential remains but time is running out.

Download picks: Hippy Son, Come Closer, Tired of England, Plastic Hearts

Track listing:

  1. Buzzards And Crows
  2. Hippy’s Son
  3. Plastic Hearts
  4. Tired Of England
  5. Come Closer
  6. Faultines
  7. Kicks Or Consumption
  8. Best Face
  9. Truth Begins
  10. Chinese Dogs
  11. The North
  12. Blood On My Shoes