Monday, December 28, 2009

Albums Of The Decade : 4 - The Libertines - Up The Bracket (2002)

An album so shambolically brilliant that no amount of lurid tabloid exposés or drug-fuelled misdemeanours on the part of Pete Doherty could sully its reputation. Doherty and his songwriting partner Carl Barat took cues from The Smiths (some devastating lyrical wit), The Strokes (the laconic vocals and swaggering attitude), The Buzzcocks (a penchant for addicitive hooks) and their heroes The Clash (the adrenalized punk energy, not to mention the fact Mick Jones produced the album) and created a record that revitalised British guitar-rock and gave rise to a whole host of imitators. Their vision of Albion was by turns highly romanticised and cuttingly realistic, reflecting the love and poison of London and referencing all manner of post-war British cultural influences. As for the ragged glory of the music itself, tunes like ‘Death On The Stairs’ and ‘The Boy Looked at Johnny’ burned with a raucous garageland energy that occasionally threatened to collapse in on itself (on the latter, Barat and Doherty abandoned conventional vocals altogether halfway through and resorted to simply hollering over the guitars), while there was also room for mid-tempo, Kinks-ian strums and measured melancholia. Running through it all was a passion and energy that could perhaps best be summed up by that enduring line from ‘The Good Old Days’: “If you've lost your faith in love and music/Oh the end won't be long”.

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