The Libertines

Album Title: Self Titled
Release Date: August 31, 2004
Genre: Rock
There are those who would suggest that The Libertines' decision to self-title their new album concedes laziness or lack of interest on their part. It seems much more likely, however, that it was impossible for the band to find a more appropriate name for this batch of songs than 'The Libertines'.

The past, and indeed, present of The Libertines is no secret to anyone. Exiled members, addictions, crimes, and jail time are just a few of the issues that have plagued the four-piece over the past few years, and they make no effort to hide it. While the style and musicianship featured on the album is topnotch, it's the thinly-veiled autobiographical lyrics that are the centerpiece of 'The Libertines'.

Apprehension and fear for the future of the band sets the listener at unease as a lyric foreshadows the eventual demise of one of the most exciting rock bands to appear on the scene in recent years. When Pete Doherty sings "But I no longer hear the music/Oh no no" in the song 'Music When the Lights Go Out', it guts the listener in a way most unexpected. Pair this line with 'The Good Old Days' from The Libertines' first album and it's possible to feel beads of sweat form on your forehead. "If you've lost you faith in love and music/Oh the end won't be long" indeed, Peter - what happens when you can't even hear it?

'The Libertines' succeeds in not only being a unleashed, down-and-dirty rock album, but it allows an entry into the minds and lives of co-frontmen Carl Barat and Pete Doherty. Their strained relationship feels as if it's YOUR strained relationship, their loss of direction leaves YOU feeling like you've stumbled into unfamiliar and hostile territory. The story that the music of 'The Libertines' tells drags you through their story - through some place that looks a lot like hell, and back again.

For a musical recording to wreck this much havoc on the mind of someone so far removed from its creators shows the mark of a truly great album. There is a good reason the members of The Libertines named this album after themselves, and it has nothing to do with pretension or the massive amounts of press they receive on a day-to-day basis. Just as the cover photo has captured the relationship between Pete'n'Carl for all to see in a single frame, so do the songs of 'The Libertines'. Doherty and Barat have taken a period in their life and preserved it through some old-fashioned rock'n'roll ingenuity. The haters can say what they want, but 'The Libertines' makes the listener FEEL something - quite a lot of something, actually - and isn't that the whole point of art?

Writer: Jaclyn Arndt

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