Album: Dirty Pretty Things, Romance at Short Notice (Vertigo)

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The Independent Culture

It can't be easy being Carl Barât, eternally condemned to playing the former sidekick in some tacky B-movie of tragic dissipation, with every break-up song he writes assumed to refer not to some lover but to Pete Doherty.

Then again, that's hardly surprising when the song in question is "Blood On My Shoes", in which he chides someone for their "one-downmanship"; or "Buzzards & Crows", in which the lure of nihilist indulgence is represented by a saloon bar haunted by a clientele who "believe in the void of themselves".

Watch the Tired of England video

But what alternative does he offer with Dirty Pretty Things? The songs on Romance at Short Notice mostly sound like copies of bands influenced by his former band: the Fratelli-esque demotic rock of "Plastic Hearts", the Arctic Monkey-style tart riffing and arch prog-punk arrangement of "Kicks Or Consumption", the Franz Ferdinandy guitars of "Best Face". It's a severe case of the master imitating his apprentices, with the flaccid impact of an idea that's echoed back and forth for too long. And while it's all efficiently rendered, that in itself surely indicates how far from challenging he's fallen.

Pick of the album:'Buzzards & Crows', 'Best Face', 'Blood On My Shoes'