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4.0 out of 5 stars Can't stand me now, 22 Mar. 2007
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Libertines, The (Bonus Tracks) [Australian Import] (Audio CD)
The Libertines were a tempestuous band, to say the least. Divided by drugs and personal problems, they never sounded as ticked off as they do in their self-titled album -- an album about fractured, dysfunctional relationships. It's a bit sloppy around the edges, and weirdly engaging. Just hope it isn't their swan song, because there is clearly so much more they could do.

It opens with the rollicking "Can't Stand Me Now," before heading into the grittier rock turf. The Libertines sound tense and a bit taunting as they sing songs like the weird "Last Post On The Bugle" and the punky "Man Who Would Be King." They break occasionally from the "theme" of the album, like in the thrashing "Arbeit Macht Frei," but the overall sound is of strife in a friendship or relationship.

When listening to the Libertines' latest, it's hard not to hear the stories that lie under the music -- as UK tabloids delight in repeating, frontman Pete Doherty got kicked out for heroin use, meaning that the Libertines may be permanently done for. Hopefully not, because their sophomore album has the same cheeky, punkish spirit that got them fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

"The Libertines" itself seems to be an ode of love and hate to Peter Doherty -- "Can't Stand Me Now" seems like a sneer in his direction, while "Road to Ruin" is a plea for him to clean up his life. It ends on a wistful note, with the lament of "Oh what became of the Likely Lads/What became of the dreams we had?/Oh what bcame of forever?" Only "What Katie Did" really fails, with Doherty constantly singing "Shoop shoop, shoop de-lang de-lang." What? Huh?

Pete Doherty was apparently shuffled into the studio whenever he could manage to sing, and he has laddish charm that you can hear even without seeing him. He always sounds a bit drunk, too -- considering the amount of drugs this doomed man ingests, it's not surprising that he sounds a bit off.

Fortunately, his occasional vocal shortcomings are easily glossed over by the brilliant slabs of rock'n'roll that frame his singing. This is Britrock, pure and simple. Backing him up are some brilliant guitar solos, touched with organ, trumpet and even harmonica -- good stuff.

Whether the Libertines regroup or sink into rock history, their self-titled sophomore album is the sound of a potential tragedy in the making. Rough, catchy, melancholy and yet charming, this is definitely a must-buy.
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Libertines, The (Bonus Tracks) [Australian Import]
Libertines, The (Bonus Tracks) [Australian Import] by The Libertines (Audio CD - 2004)
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