The Libertines Anthems for Doomed Youth Virgin EMI
‘This one’s for your heart and for your mind / The melody’s in 4×4 time / Get it right and it rings true / And now they’re coming out in droves / Out the forest and to the shows / There’s nothing else to do’. Those are the opening lines to The Libertines’ comeback album. Sadly, their vow to rouse us with their heartfelt sincerity falls flat. It’s actually a reworked Babyshambles demo – and it’s not even one of the better songs they could have scraped from Doherty’s late noughties creative dry patch.
The album’s lead single Gunga Din was an accurate indicator of this records’ direction. With help from their under appreciated rhythm section, the band explore a ska reggae influence before Doherty and Barat (and Barat especially) come across like parody acts of the punk-inspired poets they once were, and the band’s raw appeal is sanitised during the chorus by producer Jake Gosling – who’s worked on numerous albums by Ed Sheeran and One Direction.
For those who once had a strong emotional connection with The Libertines (which is pretty much most of us, it seems), there’s the occasional moment to be enjoyed here. And on a personal level, it’s hard not to be moved by the realistic potential of a happy ending for the band members. But while their honest fatalism can be compelling, the strangely unwitty lyrics on Anthems for Doomed Youth make the world of The Libertines feel like an uncomfortable cliché, and to pretend that this album is a genuine return to form would be to do Up The Bracket’s legacy a great disservice.