Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Libertines - All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade


Is the world really waiting for the next Libertines record. I suspect not. They're hardly front page news anymore though they, or at least Pete was for a while. For the record I've always had a fair bit of time for the band. Cheekie chappies.

They were the British response to The Strokes who brought no end of vim, vigour and genuine excitement to my life when they showed up in it at the turn of the century. The Libertines came along a bit later and did a similar thing in a very English way. Doherty and Barat seemed a talented pair and the band had a proper good knees up stirring up London Rock & Roll memories. Down at the old Bull & Bush. La, la, la, la, la.

I was less interested in the tabloid notoriety, (in fact not at all) but always enjoyed the music though I never followed their fortunes that closely. They seem to be having a better time than they've had for a while on All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade their latest as they make their way towards the big Five Oh. . 

It's all good fun and there was plenty that made me prick up my ears and touched me here. Songwriting duties traded between Barat and Doherty with Doherty's generally having the edge as they usually have done. Barat's contributions are hardly shabby by any means mind. Much of the bands appeal was always predicated on the ongoing, you suspect lifelong squabble between the pair. Banter between songs, references to Pop, Film and TV culture awash within them.

I'm not one to place albums within a body of work, particularly when I don't know it all. I imagine devotees will enjoy this greatly. I certainly did and will return. There are several songs here that rank with their best. They don't always look back like too much of Brit Pop did.  They comment on the sad here and now. Listen to Merrie Ol England. You get a neat snippet of White Cliffs of Dover at the close. They remain astute cultural magpies and commentators, picking at the debris  of a nation that may once have been great but hardly makes much of a claim to be so any longer. Strangely they remind me more of Blur than they ever have before here. There's even a quote from This is a Low. 'And the radio plays.' 

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