The Libertines – Anthems For A Doomed Youth

The Libertines should need no introduction. The band were one of the most prominent bands coming out of the revival of indie rock in the 2000s. To just put them in a group with every other band in that period would be undeserving however, considering there more rag-tag punk poetry edge (much like the Clash in areas) and the lyrical genius of both Pete Doherty and Carl Barat. The band broke up in 2004 after an infamous high profile personal feud between the songwriters and eleven years later after several reunion shows we have the “Anthem for a Doomed Youth” LP. The danger signs were flashing for this album when it was announced that Jake Gosling would be producing it considering his CV includes One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” and Ed Sheeran’s album “+”. Yet, surprisingly, The Libertine’s create a fairly good LP. It is far from perfect or even great especially instrumentally but lyrically Doherty and Barat are as good as ever.

The album opener, “Barbarians” is in the vein of the Libertines we know and love but with a darker tinge in the instrumental sections between verse and chorus. It also has a bit of 60s pop feel with the cheesy “ooooos” on the chorus which has a pretty good line in typical pessimistic Libertines fashion “the world’s fucked but it won’t let me down”. The next track “Gunga Din” has a strange reggae grove which oddly fits in perfectly with Doherty’s eccentric vocal style. Yet, what the song lacks is energy; particularly in the chorus in which the reggae style of the verse disappears into a standard conventional chorus without a great deal of enthusiasm. It’s particularly noticeable considering the set up for the chorus is so good especially when Barat’s “Oh **** it, here I go again!” scream is followed up by a chorus that plainly lacks the imagination of its lyrics. This is apparent again on “Belly of the beast” or at least for the first half. In the second half they change it up and it becomes more interesting. Again, on “Glasgow Coma Scale Blues” energy is lacking. Most notably on the chorus where the vocals are on the monotonous side and the instruments just need to be turned up to eleven in order to give that rag-tag chaotic feel that so often works in the livelier Libertines songs.

On “fame and fortune” the band takes some obvious influence from the Arctic Monkeys’ third album, “Humbug”. It has that same darkly mysterious circus like tone (most similar to Arctic Monkeys’ “Jewellers Hands” song) but it’s not produced to nearly the same standard. Comparatively it feels small to the encompassing atmosphere of some tracks on “Humbug”. It felt more like earlier attempts at capturing that same sound in the early 2000s where they hadn’t quite got it spot on yet, The Coral’s “Don’t Think You’re The First” from “Magic & Medicine” comes to mind. “You’re My Waterloo” is infinitely more interesting. A smoky piano accompanies some truly amazing song writing “You’ll never fumigate the demons/No matter how much you smoke/So just say you love me/For three good reasons/And I’ll throw you the rope”. The guitar solo toward the end doesn’t quite nail the emotion of the song which is bottled up and overflowing; I really wanted it to burst out of the song. That might just be because I want every guitar solo in a piano ballad to be Slash coming out of that church in the desert in “November Rain” but you can’t win them all.

“Iceman” sees the band take on a much more Kinks-esk style of storytelling in acoustic style which obviously unsurprisingly suits their poetic style. At the other end of the spectrum, “Fury of Chonburi” is much heavier. It has what is lacking in some of the other tracks, real energy. “Belly of the Beast” could definitely have used some of that oomph. Lyrically it is far superior to Chonburi but it feels like the band is just going through the motions; it just feels a bit flat. The closer, “Dead for Love” is a song that sounds almost as good as it reads. An almost horror movie style piano accompanies a dark poem about love and murder. Filled with some dark and luscious imagery you can easily see it playing out as a movie script.

The Libertines’ welcome return to making new music is a good one. Barat and Doherty create some incredibly clever and moving poetry at times and it is perhaps for this reason it is the ballads that are the real stand out on this LP (especially “You’re My Waterloo”). When they try to pick up the pace a bit they seem to lack the energy and imagination to match their lyrics; which of course can sometimes take away from their impactful lyrics. The first half suffers more than the second in this respect but overall it’s an impressive return after eleven years out of a recording studio together. Should they make a second album it could well be one to watch out for.

The Libertines – Anthems For A Doomed Youth = 7/10

Callum Christie  @christiecallum

Single Review – The Libertines – Anthem For A Doomed Youth

The Libertines’ September 11th LP Anthem For A Doomed Youth has now had it’s title track released as a single and after their last single ‘Gunga Din’ struggled to make much sense to anyone apart from die hard fans, this track is a track that can be grasped a little better. It isn’t musically versatile with only the standard Libertines sound albeit a lighter version of it, but lyrically it is much better than the previous single with clever and simple rhymes that can be understood as Pete actually sings as opposed to slurring his vocals and the whole song is generally the better for it. They still maintain those rough edges that are part of the bands character and it is actually a well functioning song which could make for a half decent album too.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – The Libertines – Gunga Din

With their new album Anthems for Doomed Youth coming in September, The Libertines have released a new single to come from it with ‘Gunga Din’. Despite the ‘hype’ of a Doherty and Barat reunion the track is hopelessly stuck in the middle of the last decade to the point where they sound like a matured version of Catfish and the Bottlemen and is narrowly aiming straight for that ‘LAD’ strain of Indie music or what they claim it to be whilst only occasionally engaging with the reggae tinged aspects of the song. Despite the half decent effort of the Babyshambles last album, it by no means set the world alight and with this single coming off the back of their criticised Glastonbury set it just makes you question what on earth are they doing?

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

This Week’s Music Video with Blur, U2, Pete Doherty, alt-J, Toro Y Moi, Pussy Riot and Madeon

The Orwells – Disgraceland Review

Oh haven’t you heard? The Orwells are the real deal. The saviours of rock n roll. Mario Cuomo is the new Robert Plant too. His hair is the same so it must be true. The Illinois group have been getting a lot of attention. Whether it’s been from Mario humping a speaker on Jools Holland or from his enlightening war of words with Alex Turner. The band the Monkeys were taking on tour with them have labelled the Arctic Monkey’s sets sounding the same and them being a commercial band. Though Turner’s response was frustratingly on the same level as The Orwells frontman, it’s probably a good thing that the Arctic Monkeys have a degree of commercial success and not The Orwells then. Perhaps they’d disown themselves? It’s a credit to any musician that they can have a decent sound and couple that with commercial success. Perhaps The Orwells are portraying their envy a little too well. Amongst all this and other well documented controversies; then you’d be forgiven for forgetting that they have an album out.

Disgraceland has been slowly drip feeding it’s tracks for nearly a year now and one of the early ones is ‘Who Needs You’. It’s a bouncy, energetic track with an unrelenting, well oiled and sprung rhythm and short and sharp percussion with the lead riff pouring over it and a screaming and throaty vocal tearing through it all. This review could have been given in 2010, 2004 or 2001 and what does it say that while The Strokes have long buried that sound, while being very proud of it’s legacy; that new and young bands are simply copying and pasting it upon themselves? The song is delivered with great precision and with all the controlled chaos of a Garage Rock Revival band, but with this track they are at the very back of a huge, long line of successors over the last thirteen years and god knows that we don’t need another, cheaper version when the premium brand has already been consumed. ‘Dirty Sheets’ is pretty much the same deal. Those screeching lead guitars shooting across the rhythm section along with the tumbling percussion. It then leads to the oh so typical back and forth rhythm which The Black Keys have decided to throw into the back heap of dross. Having a girl strip topless in the video is perhaps a realisation that no one is going to watch their video for the music, but it doesn’t escape from the fact that this track is decidedly threadbare and no amount of clothes shedding is going to change that. An act of compensatory factor? Probably…

‘The Righteous One’ is delivered well and the vocals combine well with the instrumentals which build up and bring down their sound to accommodate the verses and the vocals within them. All this song makes me want to do, however is listen to Jack White or one of his bands… funny that isn’t it? The broken up rhythm structure just sounds painfully familiar and outdated which is fine if you are a fan of the sound. I am too. But why listen to this faithful tribute when you could listen to the real thing from Jack White himself? He delivers and engages with the sound a hell of a lot better than The Orwells. Umm ‘Let it Burn’ is mind-numbing and humdrum recapitulation of things I’ve already said. I’m under no illusions that it wouldn’t be a fanatical experience live, but even then you’d have to be drunk out of your mind to appreciate it. Other tracks such as ‘Norman’ simply apply a rough edged, American vocal to a bland, monotonous guitar drone that sounds like it’s been taken from an unsuccessful Britpop group from the late 1990’s when everyone had packed up and left British music in the hands of Travis and Coldplay… we head to ‘North Ave.’ where we see how not to emulate Pete Doherty with a Nick Valensi riff… The album tracks have none of the energy and conviction of the singles and so they become even more of a painfully bland experience. Their energy and faithful tribute to much better and profound artists is perhaps one of the only positives I can scavenge from this album. The sweet irony of this is that behind all the forced bravado and propaganda against more ‘commercial’ bands; they wouldn’t have a band without them. These bands are The Orwells and no amount of two finger gestures at them is going to alter the fact that they are ripping them off. If you want to buy into their transparent ‘truths’ then fine, but this band were well past their sell by date before they even left the shelves.

The Orwells – Disgraceland = 4/10

Image from www.nme.com / belowthefoldblog.com

 

Babyshambles – Sequel To The Prequel Review

I think the sad thing about Pete Doherty and whatever he does now is that people will immediately dismiss it purely because it’s him. Now he has no one to blame but himself for that fact but still. Why not judge his music on his music. Not his mistakes and that you might think he’s a complete and utter prat. Anyway it’s the first album he’s done with the Babyshambles since 2007 so it’s very much a comeback of sorts but if you take a look at some of the reviews it’s got then the normal good will given to a comeback was clearly in short supply. Perhaps it’s for the reasons I’ve already mentioned or maybe it really isn’t that good?

‘Nothing Comes To Nothing’ is that sort of typical indie sound of a decade ago and the Babyshambles sound too. It’s simple rhythm section rolls along quite nicely and the bass certainly has more to do with it’s fluctuating bass line and really sort of gives it another melody to put against the more simple one being showcased. There are some nice lead guitar riffs feeding from it too for extra melodic moments and the whole thing balances pretty well against Pete’s lower toned and slightly lazy vocal and sort of gives the song a sort of subtle dual quality in that vocals and instrumentals work just as well on their own but they meet happily in the middle. There’s nothing particularly ground breaking or new about this track either but the basics are spot on and it’s by no means a poor song either. On a personal level I think ‘Farmers Daughter’ is a great track that just does everything right for me. It’s probably because its very 1997 and whether they intended it or not, it channels Blur quite a lot too. The verses are more so the 1994/1995 Blur sound with the sort of easy melodies and simple riffs to allow focus for the vocals. It then goes into a more louder and less clean cut affair for the chorus, led by Pete’s change in tone to a more 1997 version of Blur. With it the percussion is more aggressive the riffs a little more distorted and the vocals too, are more capable and tuneful than that of the verses and shows that Pete Doherty can belt out a tune as well. I’m sure everyone at their gigs will be belting it out with him too. It has a real anthem quality to it and if it was released 16 years ago it would be topping the charts. Again it’s not innovative at all but it’s a very solid tune and more for enjoyment than profanity.

‘Picture Me In A Hospital’ is a little more tinged with Folk elements with the style of the violin accompanying basic instrumental. It’s an optimistic sort of track too on the music side of things and has a catchy rhythm section with the violin melody. ‘Fireman’ has the sort of punk aggressiveness and at times it’s just Pete slurring in that typical punk fashion but some people might not enjoy it so much. ‘Maybelline’ is Pete and the Babyshambles in their indie anthem element and the song has the contrast of those anthems and the more contemplative and folk like moments with some angry slurs and reggae themes thrown in there as well. Again it’s not gonna make you drop everything and leave you in a semi-conscious state while you drool over it. But it wears it’s influences loudly and proudly and it’s not trying to be something it’s not. On that they can’t be faulted. But only praised.

Babyshambles – Sequel To The Prequel = 7.5/10

Images from www.muzu.tv / www.digitalspy.co.uk