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This feature involves a die-hard fan writing a review and their friend, a novice, also reviews it. Has time and multiple plays blinded the fan? Does it work outside the time it was released? Is the noob just plain wrong? You be the judge.

Rough Trade Records, June 2007.

FAN:

The Libertines’ 2002 debut album Up the Bracket indicated a rebirth in the British indie music scene. They led on from American bands, like The White Stripes and The Strokes, in their renewal of lo-fi, DIY, garage rock. The Libertines infused an essentially British inflection to this genre similarly to Punk of the late 70s.

From cheeky paupers, angry miscreants and front men chemistry to their Gallagher-esque infamous in-fighting, the one thing this band provided was drama. They created a magnet for the so-called disaffected youth, along with their staunch professions of romanticism and their active impropriety.

The angry, gargling slurred lyrics of tracks like ‘Horrorshow’, threaten to fall into disarray and unceremoniously drag you down into the nicotine coated, alcohol sodden, dishevelled Libertine imagination. While the ragged, snarling opening line to the title song ‘Up the Bracket’ has the passion of punk. In 2002 this departed vigorously from nu-metal’s deep, booming war cry or the tear soaked actual crying of Coldplay.

‘Boys in the Band’ plunges further by fulfilling a nod to the not-so sultry allure of the groupie, already present in the early flitter of their career. It showed the debauchery their lives entail and their new found ability to enthral, much like The Vaccines are probably experiencing, although they’re more likely to be fondling under a layer of Egyptian cotton.

Whereas the sarcasm drenched ‘The Boy Looked at Johnny’ expresses the quintessentially British, quaint mocking and humour of the band. As ‘Begging’ produces the final nail in the Up the Bracket motif through class division. This is an unsurprising theme from “The Likely Lads”, used to create much of the conflict in The Libertines’ lyrics.

It all produces very little progression from the prior invention of Punk. But the staging is then moulded in ‘The Good Old Days’ by not bowing to the past but scraping a romantic niche of their own in the filth they’ve depicted.

Although happily lacking the vulgarity of lyrics contained in ‘What a Waster’, Up the Bracket manages to relay many of the same beguiling, working class sentiments but with added depth, progression and variety which produces a promising future. Unfortunately from this vantage point the torturous implosion of The Libertines was equally foreboding.

The Reading and Leeds Carling Weekender 2010 reunion of The Libertines still threatened to be overshadowed by the band’s notorious private lives. Carl Barât and particularly Pete Doherty. If you can avoid the distraction of their love, hate and love again frontmen relationship, Up the Bracket is worth the attention. Now the latest Libertines gossip is that there will be no second reunion for Glastonbury Festival this year and recently announced by NME.com Pete Doherty will be spending more time behind bars.

– Serena Doherty

The Libertines – ‘Up The Bracket’

NOOB:

So as part of this little social/cultural experiment thing, I have gone and listened to Up The Bracket, an album by Pete Doherty’s band The Libertines, which is clearly about putting up shelves bought from Ikea.

So, here are the notes I made listening to the first song, ‘Vertigo’, from the album: “Start – good sound.” “Oh, this would be Pete Doherty’s singing voice. Singing?” “I don’t really care what happens next in the song.”  “Oh, it’s getting better.” “Oh, it’s finished.”

Copy and paste that for the rest of the album because that’s really how I felt about it all. The track would generally start well, then Doherty would start singing and it’d start going bad. Then I’d forget that he was singing and past the slurring I heard a sound I generally liked.

By the time I really felt like I was getting into a song, it finished. By the time I felt like I was getting into the album, it finished. There are two things I particularly like when listening to an album. The first is that I can make out the lyrics. Most of the time here I can’t. Secondly, I like my albums to have some length to them. 39 minutes is some length shorter than the amount I’d personally be prepared to pay for unless it was cheap. Fortunately there is Spotify, so this balanced out I guess.

So let’s focus on the voice because that’s pretty much where most of my complaints come from. I like to be able to hear what the singer is singing. I like to know what the lyrics are without having to having to run to Google. Knowing the lyrics is a major part in understanding and relating to the track.

If I can’t follow this for most of those 39 minutes, what do I do? I get that its part a style thing, but it just doesn’t gel with me. Talking about gelling, not only did I find his voice grating most of the time, but I also felt there were times, spread around various tracks, where it just seemed to not fit at all with whatever sound wasn’t Doherty’s voice, but of course there were the odd times it fit perfectly.

With that out the way, let’s turn to the actual music. I thought it was fine. It was okay. It sufficed. There were a couple of tracks I found had a particularly good sound, such as ‘Boys in the Band’, but I otherwise found it good background music. Nothing else to really say there.

It did its job of existing. It had all the required ingredients; I just found it a little bland. Like, “Hey, we can play guitar!” good for you guys. Granted, I’ve only heard it once, but I can’t actually think of any track that makes me go “I need to go back and listen to that.” I’m not saying the album is bad, not at all, but that I don’t think there’s anything defining about it. Unless you count Doherty’s slurred “singing”.

As background noise, I think it works well, but who sells albums based on that? Referring back to my notes, “The music exists. It is very much doing its job of being a collection of sounds.” By that point I’d given up paying full attention to the album. I’d got bored of what I was listening to.

Now, I’d like to think I have a fairly decent attention span, but for that to go within 39 minutes I find a little disappointing. But then so what? The Libertines have gone and got a chunky following. What I’m saying is I would happily listen to this music, but only if I didn’t have music picking duties, whilst putting together something from Ikea.

– Joel Goodman

The Libertines’ Reunion!

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