THIS JOURNAL DOCUMENTS MY INTAKE OF ONE BOOK, ZINE, CD OR DVD A DAY. RATINGS ARE: ***** = Godhead, **** = Great, *** = Good, ** = Fair, * = Why Bother?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Libertines (***)

The Libertines

I'm always late to the party, so I only recently discovered this second album by Britain's Libertines. Before that, all I knew was that it was Pete Doherty's old band, and all I knew about Doherty was what I read in the tabloids about his high-profile, low-life lifestyle: drugs, rehab, shagging supermodel girlfriend Kate Moss, etc. I knew nothing about the music but I suspected they were just another dumb rock band without any artistic ambition beyond getting getting laid and getting high. So I dismissed them on sight as being a cliche - one more drug-addled, skirt-chasing musical motley crew.

I was right, of course, about all of the above. Except I didn't count on them actually having talent, wit and great pop tunes. After listening to The Libertines, I'm happy to report that this is the best pure guitar-driven pop I've heard recently since, I dunno, Franz Ferdinand and The Artic Monkeys. I haven't been this excited since the first Television album.

They kind of remind me of The Strokes, but being Brits they are eminently more interesting. "Can't Stand Me Now" was the big hit, but I like everything on offer here, with "Don't Be Shy," "Last Post on the Bugle," "The Man Who Would Be King," and "Campaign of Hate" standing out. The song "Arbeit Macht Frei" refers to the Nazi death camp slogan that translates roughly as "Work will set you free." Question: is "What Katie Did" about Doherty's supermodel squeeze Kate Moss?

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