Albums Of The Week

The Libertines return with a new album that keeps you on the edge of your seat

The Libertines (comprising from far left, Gary Powell, Pete Doherty, Carl Barat and John Hassall) pull through on Anthems For Doomed Youth.
The Libertines (comprising from far left, Gary Powell, Pete Doherty, Carl Barat and John Hassall) pull through on Anthems For Doomed Youth.PHOTOS: UNIVERSAL MUSIC, WARNER MUSIC SINGAPORE
Dan Auerbach (above) sings with heart on Yours, Dreamily,.
Dan Auerbach (above) sings with heart on Yours, Dreamily,.PHOTOS: UNIVERSAL MUSIC, WARNER MUSIC SINGAPORE

The Libertines reunite on a new album, while warm, vintage tones permeate The Arcs' earthy offering

British garage rock quartet The Libertines were the poster boys of rock excess in the early 2000s.

Then came their spectacular break-up in 2004 and no one was sure there would be new songs from the band again.

Until now, that is.

Their brief and sporadic reunions since 2010 must have done something to mend the love-hate relationship between singer-guitarists Carl Barat and Pete Doherty.

As before, the two are so intertwined that you can hardly tell their voices apart. Their guitar-playing is still sloppy, but in a good way, channelling the ramshackle spontaneity of early punk and the urgency of new wave.



    The Libertines

    Virgin EMI

    4/5 STARS



    The Arcs

    Nonesuch Records

    4/5 STARS

The beauty of listening to the band is that they always keep you on the edge of your seat as you wonder if the song will fall apart before they get to the second chorus.

Somehow, they pull through, thanks in no small part to the solid and dependable rhythm section of bassist John Hassall and drummer Gary Powell .

Barat and Doherty's heart-on- sleeve ruminations on their self-destructive behaviour and the latter's well-documented drug addictions provide plenty of material for the lyrics in the 16 tunes.

In fact, the songs were written and recorded in Thailand, where Doherty was completing a rehabilitation programme.

"Woke up again to my chagrin/ Getting sick and tired of feeling sick and tired again," Doherty sings on Gunga Din, named after Rudyard Kipling's 19th-century poem.

Barat later retorts: "Woke up again to my evil twin/The mirror is f***ing ugly and I'm sick and tired of looking at him."

Across the Atlantic, The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach takes time off from his Grammy-winning and chart-topping American two-piece band to work with a larger group of musicians called The Arcs.

With a much broader palette to work with, Auerbach goes wild, whether it is in the kaleidoscopic glory of Come & Go and Nature's Child, the tender soul of Put A Flower In Your Pocket or in the trippy dub of Everything You Do (You Do For You).

Warm, vintage tones permeate the songs and give the album an earthy feel, while guitars fuzz and twang sporadically, backed by bouncy beats.

Like The Libertines in Anthems For Doomed Youth, Auerbach takes stock of his rise to rock stardom: "I heard I lost my self control/But everything I did just went and turned to gold/I love the pictures on the wall/Reminding me of what I lost to get it all," he sings on the sprightly Outta My Mind.

There is solace in love, though. "It's funny how you lose perspective/Every inch of you is bruised and dented/The thought of your touch is the only relief here", he sings on Rosie (Ooh La La).

Auerbach has got his groove on, but more importantly, imbues the songs with plenty of heart.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2015, with the headline ' Rock on both sides of the pond'. Print Edition | Subscribe