Anthems For Doomed Youth. You just knew how it would happen. You knew Doherty and Barat would get the songs right (great songwriters do not die that easily, not even after drug addictions, horrible album covers, pointless bands and cringe-worthy acting) and music critics would express snide indifference.
In a way, The Libertines’ reunion was a lost cause from the start. Songs are poor – they are ripped to pieces. Songs are great – come on, it’s not 2002 anymore.
And the songs are great. You can’t be so blind as to not see the obvious class in these 12 ragged, romantic, hopelessly British songs. Their songwriting (and the album gives off this charming collaborative feel) has more twists and turns than most could fathom. I’d been concerned about the risk-free inclusion of “You’re My Waterloo” but it fits in so nicely and so naturally and creates this wonderful sense of continuity.
Elsewhere… “Gunga Din” has their best chorus since “Good Old Days”; “Iceman” is a classic that is a lot better than its title suggests; “Fame And Fortune” is infectious as hell; “Dead For Love” seems like a confessional, majestic closer. In the end, well, if parts of it are not as good as Up The Bracket, I’m willing to forgive them. Their thrills remain singular, and, quite simply, they are still so much better than the rest.