His former Libertines bandmate may grab all the headlines, but Carl Barat's Dirty Pretty Things seem to have grabbed all of the tunes on Waterloo To Anywhere
. Like The Jam, The Clash and even The Kinks, the Dirty Pretty Things have an innate ability to take their basic guitar-bass-drums setup and make them sound unmistakeably English. Of course, frontman Barat's laconic London accent helps, but it's more than that. The music, with it's mixture of punk rock and ska, owes a large debt to the aforementioned Clash--and, like them, the Dirty Pretty Things also know how to write a catchy tune, as anyone who's heard the single "Bang Bang You're Dead" will attest. Moreover, the lyrics are as reflective of contemporary Britain as anything by The Streets (particularly "You F*cking Love It"). Best of all, like the best punk albums, Waterloo to Anywhere
is short, sharp and possessed of a tangible urgency--the album's 12 songs clock in at just about 36 minutes. Considering the shambles that Barat's former colleague Pete Doherty has become, it's particularly encouraging to hear something as good as Dirty Pretty Things rise from the ashes of the Libertines. --Ted Kord
Carl Barat wastes no time in admonishing the ghosts of his past on Waterloo To Anywhere. On rampant opener "Deadwood" he scolds: "You got the world, boy / This all you make it? / You had the choice, lad / You wouldn't take it". But if you get caught up digging for allusions to Pete Doherty, a fine debut album will pass you by.
"Bang Bang You're Dead" is a killer track - as good a single as the Libertines ever produced - while the band pack so much vitriol into the Hives-esque "You F***ing Love It", you can actually feel their pain as it ends.
In stark contrast to the sense of impending collapse surrounding Babyshambles' debut Down In Albion, Waterloo... sounds remarkably tight. The jangling guitars and Dave Sardy's production provide a real sense of urgency.
After the Libs split most believed Babyshambles would be blunt without Carl's axe, that DPT would be lost without Pete's lyricism and that neither could spawn another Up The Bracket. In hindsight, this is only two thirds correct. This album might not reach the heights of the Libertines debut but it's proof that Mr. Barat is getting along just fine, thank you very much. --Richard Banks
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