Listening to new CDs is like eating a foreign meal; foreign in that you have never eaten it before. You have to chew on it, sometimes more forcefully than other times. You have to let your saliva break it down for the body’s easy processing. Then there is the digestion of the material; sometimes with ease, other times with horrific pain. Once you’ve digested the new experience the piece must diffuse into your veins, and swim through you blood until the final destination is reached. Sometimes it is a lengthy, disgusting process and other times it is a pleasant and amorous process. The Libertines are the most exciting of cultures and their food (music) does not disappoint.
Their name, The Libertines, boasts of freedom from convention. Their music resolves this, deeming them romantics, idealists and hedonists unaffected by the constantly grasping structures of overarching greed, of standards, of rigidity. I know there has been much press and concern over the bands extracurricular activities but this one is about the notes, the songs, and the lyrics. For some reason, bad boy antics don’t appeal to me … instead I end up feeling sad for their suffering. Still, I am a great fan of Richard Hell, Johnny Thunders and the like … for the songs. I have been anticipating, salivating over my acquisition of this album. My taste buds were far from disappointed. They were dancing, they were teasing my veins, they were wishing for more from the moment I had my first bite, “Can’t Stand Me Now.” With a beat to jump around to in your head, your mouth and on the ground, it’s an excellent start.
“Don’t Be Shy” struck a personal chord, one which I will not share because well, it’s none of your fucking business. “The Man Who Would be King” makes me envious. What I would not give, save my sleep and energy, to be able to honestly sing the savory words, “I lived my dream today / and I have lived it yesterday / and I’ll have lived it tomorrow … I lived my dreams today / I lived it yesterday / and I’ll be living yours tomorrow” (so arrogant but so inspiring).
The ingredients and nutritional values read like a familiar dish: lots of dirty guitar parts; a so cool, energetic, cocky, wouldn’t have it ANY other way voice (more of an instrument than a voice); melding and accommodating drum lines with the right speed; a bass that doesn’t distract; and masterful lyrics and songwriting to boot. “They sold the rights to all the wrongs,” “I no longer hear the music when the lights go out / Love goes cold in the shades of doubt.” The lyrics are great from the anticipated first bite with “An ending fitting for the start / you twist and tore our love apart / your light fingers threw the dark / that shattered the lamp and into darkness cast us…” The visual image of light fingers throwing out dark is vivid, intriguing, confusing, and extraordinary.
While not exactly a throwback from the days of The Clash, The Libertines are well on their way to making this dish a masterpiece, known and tried by all. They will then boast of the speed by which their music can be taken into the veins and how mightily and euphorically they swirl through, forcing their notes through red and white blood cells, overpowering them all. Even if their frantic and tumultuous lives and relationships are what contributed to their awesome music, my awesome meal, I wish them the best with the band, with cooking, with rehab.
(Rough Trade Records)