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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
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+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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44.1 kHz Archive

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The Libertines
The Libertines
Rough Trade

If you read the New Musical Express on a regular basis, then surely you know that Pete Doherty, the most colossal of fuckups in that sea of idiocy known as the British rock scene, is no longer a member of The Libertines, the band he co-founded in 1999. For now. These things can change, and hasty proclamations followed by changes of heart have come before from this ultra-talented, erratically good quartet.

The Libertines was recorded with Doherty during happier times; that is, when he wasn't smoking crack, some dishy info that has helped to sell this rambling ramshackle of a group. Unlike pop groups of yesteryore (the Libs are just that, a pop group), they don't seem to hide their vices. There's no mystery. No "Paint It Black" or "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." The band's recent press release discusses their co-frontman's addiction and apparent mental instability. It seems vulgar and unhealthily voyeuristic to know this much. This isn't Fleetwood Mac blowing lines and writing airy rock about incestuous band orgies. The man is a crackhead. That said, boy, can they write great songs.

As far as drug records go, this is no Screamadelica. It's basically more of the same sort of wistful, sometimes hard-charging melodic rock of the group's first and better release, Up the Bracket. That album was the very definition of potential-builder. Every rock crit who dug Bracket's rollicking, good-ole-lad malevolence had no problem branding the Libs the absolute second coming of The Clash, an easy reference since Mick Jones produced that record, as well as this one. Not a very astute assertion, considering this band has more interest in self-conscious duets about brotherhood and drunkenness and scowling screeds about "Me-first" culture. They're a bit light on "I Fought the Law" bombast.

Their loose, scuzzy sound keeps them far away from sophomore slumpery. The fast, bullheaded songs start with an always-familiar three-chord progression. In succession, "Narcissist," "The Ha Ha Wall," "Arbeit Macht Frei" and "Campaign of Hate" barrel along, melting into one another at the same brisk pace, leaving the heart of the album flush with vigor. But it's the slower, dare I say, ballads that lift this album.

"Music When the Lights Go Out" sounds like a plaintive coo to a lost love. Obviously, with the all the gossip we've got at our fingertips, it's a bit easier to figure out that this is co-frontman and tortured good soldier Carl Barat and Doherty's willowy exchange about excess, friendship, gooey sentiment and sweet songwriting. "What Katie Did" is a common man's Elvis Costello tune, short on sharp wordplay, chock full of tuneful lollygagging with a doo-wop refrain. "What Became of the Likely Lads" is an affecting duet with a punchy, punching chorus. It's also a song that makes one wonder what the hell this band is doing breaking up/kicking each other out/robbing one another, etc. Their interplay is so fantastic, it's frustrating knowing their future is in jeopardy. Doherty, now teaming with some drug buddies in the appropriately named Babyshambles, is trashing his bandmates in the press and writing revenge songs. Very Stevie Nicks, Petey.

The album's opener, "Can't Stand Me Now," is a knowing choice for a first single, starting the album with a flurry of slippery guitar trickery. But Barat and Doherty harmonizing and riffing back and forth about how much they love/hate each other is as much about dysfunctional relationships as anything Harold Pinter could write. And Pinter doesn't play a mean Fender, either.

by Sean Fennessey

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