Album: The Libertines

The Libertines, ROUGH TRADE
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The Independent Culture

This rough-hewn, shambolic sophomore effort from The Libertines confirms the suspicion that the soap-opera antics of Pete Doherty's lifestyle, so greedily chewed over in the press, are infinitely more important than the band's actual music. Then again, the band themselves seem consumed by the same concerns. The bulk of The Libertines consists of songs whose comprehension is totally dependent on familiarity with the band's travails, from the stubborn pride of the jaunty "The Man Who Would Be King" to the weird mix of cynicism and forgiveness in the concluding "What Became of the Likely Lads". The best are those in which Carl Barat and Doherty alternate passages of criticism and extenuation, as in "Can't Stand Me Now". Its spindly, assertive sound is the closest the band come to their heroes, The Smiths. Elsewhere, the band move from the particular to the general, with songs such as "Narcissist" and "The Ha Ha Wall" acknowledging the dangerous, deceitful charm of the rock-rebel archetype. But the

This rough-hewn, shambolic sophomore effort from The Libertines confirms the suspicion that the soap-opera antics of Pete Doherty's lifestyle, so greedily chewed over in the press, are infinitely more important than the band's actual music. Then again, the band themselves seem consumed by the same concerns. The bulk of The Libertines consists of songs whose comprehension is totally dependent on familiarity with the band's travails, from the stubborn pride of the jaunty "The Man Who Would Be King" to the weird mix of cynicism and forgiveness in the concluding "What Became of the Likely Lads". The best are those in which Carl Barat and Doherty alternate passages of criticism and extenuation, as in "Can't Stand Me Now". Its spindly, assertive sound is the closest the band come to their heroes, The Smiths. Elsewhere, the band move from the particular to the general, with songs such as "Narcissist" and "The Ha Ha Wall" acknowledging the dangerous, deceitful charm of the rock-rebel archetype. But their messages are underlined more by the slapdash nature of the proceedings: if the result is tunes this thin, and performances this perfunctory, who'd be a junkie rebel?

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