Album: Carl Barât, Carl Barât (Arcady)
Regrets, self-disgust and wretchedness: God, I love myself
Sunday 03 October 2010
At first glance, he looks like a bit of a Herbert.
It's hard to say why the cover of the solo debut from Carl Barât – hair slicked back, wifebeater vest, pointing a camera at us like it's a clichéd MySpace mirror shot – is so hilarious: it just is. But it's also a visual allegory for the record itself, right down to the skinny model posed irrelevantly out of focus and facing out of shot. She doesn't matter: forget that the climactic song is called "Ode to a Girl"; this one's all about him.
"Self-disgust is self-obsession," as someone far cleverer than Barât or I once wrote, and Carl Barât is an album of self-hatred, and vanity, and self-hatred for being so vain.
On the anti-romantic "Carve My Name" he takes a pitiless look at his erstwhile bachelor lifestyle ("I mark my kills with scratches on the bedpost..."), while "Je Regrette, Je Regrette" features his funniest tirade of insults since the Libertines' "What a Waster", but this time they're turned inwards: "I'm a wretch, I'm a wretch/ A tosser at a stretch..."
Sonically there's something strangely half-finished, which was understandable on the second Libs album, but he's had all the time in the world to make this one, so it must be an aesthetic decision, actively taken. "She's Something", for instance, is Spectoresque but lo-fi in execution, less a wall of sound, more a picket fence. "Shadows Fall" makes a stab at sombre Americana à la Lambchop, but drags badly.
It's an album which has its moments, notably the Brecht/Weill-isms of "The Magus" (highly reminiscent of the Dresden Dolls) and the sinister "The Fall". But, if his career isn't to follow the parabola of the circumflex in his surname, one hopes he's saving his best for the third Libertines album.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Mario Balotelli: Staff at arson-hit Manchester Dogs' Home convinced Liverpool striker is behind five-figure donation
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 There is literally not a single woman in this iPhone 6 queue
- 4 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
- 5 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams cast in Channel 4 drama about cyber bullying
Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
Downton Abbey: Liam Neeson wants role as stableman in period drama
The Walking Dead season 5 synopsis: Spoilers and existential questions revealed
Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God