Libertines Up the Bracket

Libertines Up the Bracket
The Libertines are possessed with that particularly English brand of rock nonchalance that makes their every effort seem casually tossed off. Of course, it takes careful preening and planning to arrive at this sort of sloppiness, and the Libertines songwriting pair of Peter Doherty and Carlos Barât have been rehearsing for six years, since they met as teen actors and stand-up comedians. Not accomplished enough to warrant the Jagger/Richards comparisons that have been thrown at them, and lacking the hooliganism of the Gallaghers, they're nonetheless on their way in both senses. "It can be horrible," is how Barât characterises their tumultuous best-friendship. "There's a lot of understanding and misunderstanding." That conflicted energy is captured in a flurry of Jam-esque rock'n'roll melody and dissonance; it places them in a specific category of English rock — more Kinks than Pulp, where sloppy American imitation is valued over uptight Britishisms. All this with practically zero sense of the historic riffs they'd be accused to stealing — if in fact they'd heard them. At the record company's behest, the Clash's Mick Jones showed up to help these youngsters capture their flailing energy. "I'd not heard the Clash till I met Mick Jones," reveals Barât. "I knew they were a band." By the sounds of Up the Bracket, the Clash should be high up on the Libertines' pantheon of deities, but Jones just channelled their energy. "He knew what buttons to push to get the best out of us — stopped us imploding and turning on each other. He was the vibe-master — not really a studio producer. More of a dancing producer. When Mick stopped dancing, it was time to reflect what was going wrong." (Rough Trade)