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.
Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigourfilm
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’