So, The Libertines actually made a new album to accompany that big-money live reunion. Anthems For Doomed Youth is that album, approaching their much loved sound from an older, possibly wiser position. An interesting prospect considering the inherently youthful nature of the band’s earlier work… Twelve tracks, or sixteen should you choose the deluxe edition CD.
5/10 Clinton Staff review, 08 September 2015
There was an awful moment on the BBC ‘Seven Ages of Rock’ documentary from a few years ago when having talked about The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Suede and Oasis -- which was varying degrees of fascinating -- where it cut to the Libertines and it was suddenly apparent just how shit they were. Even compared with Oasis and Suede.
15 years into an on/off career in which the two frontmen have consistently failed to sing into different microphones (both literally and figuratively) they have been coaxed back into the studio for another attempt to try to convince people that they are more than just a washout. Like Suede’s ‘Bloodsports’ it sounds like the kind of album that record executives have always wanted them to make. What is surprising is how together the record is, especially in its opening stages. ‘Barbarians’ is a smart enough opener with spaghetti western guitars and a charge of the light brigade chorus, ‘Gungo Din’ has a cod reggae lollop and abysmal self mythologising lyrics but if “got to find a vein...always the same” sung in a Jamaican accent appeals then you’ll enjoy its whip-smart chorus, ‘Fame and Fortune’ too sounds rather like Madness and is therefore enjoyable.
The problems start when the record goes into weep-rock. “You’re My Waterloo” (dear God) has Docherty straining over some Coldplay piano and inserting London references in a manner that suggests to call it ham-fisted would be to do it a favour. “Belly of the Beast” is a simply terrible half hearted, half-arsed excuse for a song and as the album goes on it gets worse and worse - in fact the 16 song deluxe version should be made cheaper as you have to endure more. There’s hints of what could have been ‘Heart of the Matter’ suffers from sounding just like the Arctic Monkeys who were of course hugely influenced by the Libertines ramshackle delivery but of course added songs, wit and some charm to the brew.
Truth is, Libertines were all about the moment, most of their older songs sound terrible in the cold sober light of day. However I don’t think this album is a total disaster. Hardcore fans might forgive some of it's lesser moments just to have the cheeky Docherty/Barat trade-offs back in situ but for the casual listener Libertines should only be seen as a small footnote in rocks rich tapestry.
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