If you haven’t heard of The Libertines, you need to get out from whatever rock you’ve been hiding under and listen to this album. I mean, sure, you have a tiny excuse; there was an 11-year gap between their second album and their third, Anthems For Doomed Youth, but seriously.
Just because it’s been a long time between drinks, (and if you take into account lead singer Peter Doherty’s history) though, it doesn’t mean the quality has gone down. Things have changed, however. It’s not the early ‘00s anymore and Brit-rock isn’t what it used to be. But who cares?
The first track ‘Barbarians’ keeps you in suspense to the point where it almost trolls you, though. The Libertines have simmered down a bit – or so they’d like you to think – until the chorus kicks in, that is. The guitar riffs faintly echo that of ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ and they’re back where they used to be, with the shouty sing-a-long choruses and strong guitar riffs. It’s no wonder that some people refer to them as the UK version of The Strokes.
‘Gunga Din’ follows the same pattern. It starts off slow, with Doherty near-speaking lazily: “been up all night, I’ll probably pick a fight. But I can’t help it, I’m a bastard in the morning…” in his northern English drawl. It’s a real truth bomb track, but at the same time, it’s got this thing about it that makes you feel a bit of sympathy towards him. Next comes ‘Fame And Fortune’ and it can only really be described as ‘English as fuck’. Everything from the chant of “we walk the streets of laaaaandan” (translation: London) to the twangy guitars, this track is probably the most like their previous works.
The track that follows, however, slows things down a bit and sounds a tad romantic, even if it is about how “life can be so handsome, life can be so gay”. It’s a real feel good track, but not in the usual way. The dueling vocals between Doherty and co-vocalist Carl Barât that sound like they’re just having a conversation; the guitars sound a bit wishy-washy, but the lyrics are what make this one a happy tune. Because it’s The Libertines, there’s always got to be at least one pretty sounding piano track on each album. This comes in the form of ‘You’re My Waterloo’. It’s lovely, but it’s easy to get lost in, and just makes me wonder if it’ll spark a trend of referring to people as city names. #you’remymelbourne
A big vibe I get from this album is that The Libertines are really trying to prove that they are not The Strokes. It sounds similar enough to their previous albums so you’ll recognise them, but the funny thing about this album is that The Libertines really do not seem to care that Brit-rock isn’t what it used to be anymore. Instead of changing to adapt, (like The Strokes) they’ve really stuck with their signature sound and just tweaked it a tiny bit – which will come as a relief to fans who, like myself, were terrified that they might change their sound to suit the times. Plus, there’s no drugs’n’roll snorting sounds on this album (unlike on ‘Last Post on the Bugle’, from their previous album). Bravo.
Anthems For Doomed Youth is out now via EMI.