The Libertines (2004)

LibertinesA few months ago I was listening to an NPR segment that focused on the music coming out of Britain.  The commentator felt it important to highlight a band called The Libertines. In NPR’s opinion The Libertines were one of the best bands in recent years to surface and perhaps, had made a significant contribution towards a second “British Invasion”.  “Poppy-cock!” I say, this band is truly dreadful to listen to and one has to ponder how they were able to get signed to a major label; tt truly is beyond me.  Sometimes I just shake my head in disbelief about the music that NPR reviews; and worse, what they feel important enough to bring to their listening audience’s attention. 

Most people who know me will agree that I am one of the most open-minded people when it comes to music.  I like metal, country, jazz, classical, rockabilly, punk, even easy listening (and the list goes on and on and on).

 However, I cannot bring myself (after multiple listenings both with and without scotch whiskey) to appreciate what these guys are offering musically.  From the first few songs I thought that NPR had been joking, wondering if this band was a spoof.  Perhaps The  Young Ones had decided to put out an album just for laughs sake.  Nope. This was a genuine album, by a band that actually thought they sounded good, and further more (adding insult to injury) so did a bunch of other people who had bought it.

The Libertines as a band are so poorly out of tune throughout the entire album.  Honestly it sounds as if the band got together at the last minute to play in their parents garage.  The first song  Can’t Stand Me Now is rememiscant of something The Clash would have put out (this album is produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones, so that explains much of the sound).  The Libertines clearly are trying too much to be The Clash, and perhaps that is there downfall.  The song is raw and  unrefined and I get this is the punk sound they are attempting to achieve.  Sadly, it’s not even done well to create something remotely entertaining.  In all honesty, and I have to laugh, the wood block or cowbell part of the song just reminds me of Will Farrell in the SNL band spoof.  To it’s credit Can’t Stand Me Now has a slight melodic rhythm for a portion of the song, but clearly it doesn’t save the listener from wanting to hit fast forward. 

The second song is Last Post on The Bugle, is also terrible.  The beginning is remiscent from some from either Morrissey, The Smiths, Big Audio Dynamite, or perhaps, The Clash, again (sigh).  The beginning of the song has the sound of either someone ripping paper or snorting coke, why?  It has no place in the song and is just random which again exemplifies the adolescent structure of their music.  Perhaps it the punk thing to do to just put in random distractions in a song to sound like you don’t care, right? The lyrics are not even in synch with any of the music and again, the listener is left wondering how these dudes ever got signed.

My ultimate favorite in this album is Don’t Be Shy.  It could quite possibly be the worst song ever written; and I’m not kidding, it’s truly awful.  Listeners who bought this album for this song (if there were any) clearly need to seek some medical attention and proves that there is “a sucker born every minute” if they bought this album for the “great music”. 

The first time I heard Don’t Be Shy I looked for the mallet to hit the gong, it would make every dog bark in your neighborhood.  Clearly this song was The Libertines attempt to really rock out and produce a song that jams, but it’s nothing but a humorous attempt at writing quality music and just falls so short of the mark.

Amazingly, this band was compared to the likes of The Hives, The Strokes, and other bands that had a raw garage like sound, yet made good music.  Perhaps it was simply that the album was produced by Mick Jones; if he put his seal of approval on the band they were good to go, I dunno.  What I do know is that the band has had terrible reputation for drug addiction.  One of the lead singers, Pete Doherty was both a crack and heroin addict which created more press for the band than their music.  But, any press is good press right?  I think that people may have found this facet of the band an intriguing part and thus purchasing the album. 

In sum, The Libertines were a bunch of kids that became successful in an impossible field, made millions, became reckless and addicted, and then broke up.  The only contribution I see this band making is proving that you can be absolutely terrible at music and someone, somewhere, will perhaps discover you and voila! 

The only good song on the album is Road to Ruin, but one song does not save an album.  If you want a punk bands to listen to you are better spending your money on bands like Rancid or The Used.

Please avoid this album at all costs.  I think this band was found to be cool and cutting edge because they actually were terrible and everyone knew it.  Sometimes liking bad music is a cool thing, I guess? Anyone with half a brain can tell that this band is not even remotely close to a conributing factor in the British sound at any level  They are simply just another garage band attempting to be a rebirth of The Clash sound. 

The offspring of the break up of The Libertines was called The Babyshambles, and a much more fitting name in my opinion.

The Libertines album gets a 0 out of 5.

5 Responses to “The Libertines (2004)”

  1. 1 ericstraus
    October 30, 2009 at 6:15 PM

    Wow, I think you’re being way too harsh! This isn’t bad at all…I actually like the old school punk sound. I agree that the Libertines shouldn’t be compared to the Hives and the Strokes, because I really disliked those bands! They seemed more like punk boy-bands, MTV marketing gimmicks. The Libertines seem much more about the music, and while it’s certainly derivative of the Clash, it has a good sound to it; reminds me of Scissors for Lefty, if you’ve heard them. I’m not saying they’re full of incredible musical talent or anything, but their simplistic style is enjoyable, unlike the Hives etc. who just scream at you over three chords. My impression might be a little skewed since I only listened to 30 second clips of each song, and I’m not going to rush out and buy the album, but I certainly didn’t hate it.

    • 2 jacobull
      October 30, 2009 at 6:50 PM

      Your points are well noted, but with all of the bands that are out there that have successfully captured the old school punk sound, this band barely reaches the mark in my opinion. The Libertines create no original sound for themselves and what sound they do create is as I have stated in my review “raw and unrefined” to a degree that its not even pleasant to listen to in any capacity. The only cool thing about The Libertines is their name; taken from the Marquis De Sade’s “Lust For Of The Libertines”, he too was rather “punk” for his day during The Enlightenment; so they at least have that going for them.

      • 3 ericstraus
        October 30, 2009 at 7:12 PM

        But I don’t think they’re simply trying to just “be old school punk” – I think they’ve taken that base sound and made it their own. I certainly hear Clash elements in there, but I don’t think they are “trying to sound like the Clash” at all…while their sound may not be 100% original (is anyone’s?) I wouldn’t say that they sound just like any other band.

  2. 4 Nici
    November 4, 2009 at 10:11 PM

    what? are you kidding? this is one of the best albums i’ve ever heard! you should REALLY listen to the lyrics! and listed to their first album, it’s not that raw.. I think it’s better. but still, this album isn’t bad at all!! how dare you?

    I think the Libertines are one of the best british bands of 2000

    (sry bad english)

    • 5 jacobull
      November 4, 2009 at 10:39 PM

      No, I’m not kidding I really don’t like them. But, that is the beauty of this blog; you might actually disagree and that is perfectly ok with us here at Hi-Fi Central. I actually got ridiculed by a fellow reviewer, so how’s that for transparency?
      Upon first, second, and even third listens I just could not wrap my head around why these guys were considered SO incredible; compared to the likes of Arctic Monkeys these guys are miles behind.
      However, I do appreciate your time to point out why you like them so much.
      Please continue to read our blog and again, thanx for your input!

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