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The Libertines - The Libertines

Review: Jack Foley

THE Libertines appear determined to toss away the potential surrounding them in a manner that is reminiscent of The Stone Roses in their heyday.

Hailed as musical geniuses following the release of their first album, Up The Bracket, the band seemed to get overshadowed by stories of Pete Doherty's drug addiction, and the inevitable fall-out with co-founder, Carl Barat.

The future remains uncertain for them, but the present is all about the new album, called The Libertines, which, just for a change, places their music centre stage.

Spear-headed by the single, Can't Stand Me Now, which confirmed that the band had lost none of its edgy style - while also containing the hauntingly prophetic line, ‘You can’t stand me now/but have we enough to keep it together/or do we just go on pretending/and hope our luck is never ending’ - the album delivers all that we could have hoped for, and a little bit more.

That is to say, it confirms Up The Bracket was no fluke and that Pete, Carl, John and Gary can continue to be hailed as legends in the making by a music press that has largely become seduced by the band's questionable brilliance.

Produced by Clash legend, Mick Jones, and engineered by Bill Price, who worked on London Calling, the album contains many Clash comparisons, as well as hinting at influences such as The Jam, The Cure and The Smiths.

It also serves to ensure that the band remains at the forefront of the post-punk revival, putting the chasing pack of Franz Ferdinand, Razorlight and, to a lesser degree, The Strokes, in their place.

Whether it's the album of the decade that some people are professing, however, is debatable.

It certainly contains plenty of character, loads of catchy harmonies, and some terrific songwriting, but, for me, it falls a little short of being an out and out classic.

Highlights include the Last Post on the Bugle, which showcases the band at their most infectious, and future single, What Became of the Likely Lads, which, ironically, or perhaps cleverly, places yet more question marks around the future of the band, in form of lyrics such as 'what became of the likely lads/what became of the dreams we had'.

Rather than spending too much time on pondering the demise of The Libertines, however, fans should content themselves with revelling in the highpoints.

Other stand-outs include Don't Be Shy, with its typically edgy vocals and guitars (some of which scream Strokes); the strum-laden Music When The Lights Go Out, which contains a terrific recurring guitar loop, as well as a distinctly Sixties vibe; the harder, nu-wave Campaign of Hate; and the 60s pop harmony of What Katie Did, with its delicious, hopelessly catchy 'shoop, shoop, shoop' intro.

It is during moments such as these that listeners will hope that The Libertines can exorcise the demons that are threatening to tear them apart.

But then, as the lyrics of What Katie Did, remind us, 'it's a cruel, cruel world'.

Track listing:
1. Can’t Stand Me Now
2. Last Post On The Bugle
3. Don’t Be Shy
4. The Man Who Would Be King
5. Music When The Lights Go Out
6. Narcissist
7. The Ha Ha Wall
8. Arbeit Macht Frei
9. Campaign Of Hate
10. What Katie Did
11. Tomblands
12. The Saga
13. Road To Ruin
14. What Became Of The Likely Lads

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