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Romance at short notice

Maybe carl was the talented one after all

Rating: 8 / 10

Tim Smyth, 30 Jun 2008

After what felt like 24/7 coverage from the NME, The Libertines’ shambling mess of a split has joined that of The Beatles and, indeed, Charles and Di in the annals of acrimony. But, while praise of Macca and Lennon’s solo offerings is inevitably qualified by the fact that they’d have been better together, Carl Barât seems to be coping just fine without his drug-chugging former bandmate Pete Doherty. While at first ‘Buzzards And Crows’ sounds a dodgy opening note (it’s not sure if it’s a sea-shanty or a circus song), its chorus – which has the dignity of a drunken aristocrat tottering to keep his balance – proves it's only a false start. ‘Hippy Son’ reminds you just how beautiful a marriage The Libs made between squalling guitar wrenchings and bright vocal melodies – but what’s really striking is how well it’s replicated here.

Another notable element of The Libertines' brief run was the number of soundalikes they spawned, but the perky, Kooksy brightness of ‘Plastic Hearts’ casts the imitative efforts of Luke Pritchard in a particularly unflattering light. The album’s not just about how good Carl is without Pete, but rather about a band set for greatness in their own right; ‘Kicks And Consumptions’ gives Anthony Rossomondo’s flinty guitar stylings an airing, while the rhythm section shows itself to be as tight as the Obama-Clinton battle on ‘Chinese Dogs’. On ‘Tired Of England’, one of the standout tracks, Barat makes a move towards Paul Weller territory, deftly lifting the Modfather’s plangent vocal cadences and pessimistic-but-pleased sentiments. That’s not even the best bit, though: on ‘Come Closer’, one of many sublime quiet moments, there’s the hint that Carl would welcome back his old bandmate with open arms.

Key Track: ‘Truth Begins’

Rating: 8 / 10
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