Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Libertines

  • Up the Bracket [Rough Trade, 2003] A
  • "I Get Along" [Rough Trade EP, 2003] ***
  • The Libertines [Rough Trade, 2004] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Up the Bracket [Rough Trade, 2003]
Forget all the well-meaning comparisons to good bands present and especially past. Every guitar-based four-piece with enough sidelong flair and I-don't-care gets those nowadays, and these Londoners have more talent and panache than most if not all of them. They're plenty songful if you give them half a chance, which is hard because they conceal such a bewildering wealth of compositional tactics within a fast, loose, lyrical, vulnerable sound that's their own even if they've never given it a moment's thought which is what the sound wants you to think, and which I very much doubt. Let the past take care of itself. They want the world and they want the handcar it's going to hell in. A

"I Get Along" [Rough Trade EP, 2003]
Debut-album "single" plus four affectionately unfinished collectibles, the best an actual single ("Don't Look Back Into the Sun," "Mayday"). ***

The Libertines [Rough Trade, 2004]
They didn't start as fast or punky as their reputation, and this seat-of-the-pants follow-up, every song cut quick lest Peter Doherty take a powder, often seems fragile, offhand, tentative, even enervated. But this isn't a weakness--it only makes their sound more their own. As with the Heartbreakers on the precious occasions when they jelled, their punk is overwhelmed by unhinged lyricism--with drum powerhouse Gary Powell assuring that they rock when need be regardless. A-

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