Nick Griffin. Anal prolapse. Cold potatoes. The Libertines. Here are a few of my least favourite things. Inspired by Banjo Fett’s excellent, almost supernatural divination of the sinister heart of a U2 album, I have turned my agoraphobic pen to the writing of a music review: specifically, The Libertines’ album ‘The Boys in the Band’. This might not actually be the title of one of their albums. But for the purposes of this review, it might as well be. Here it is:
The title of this album, ‘The Boys in the Band’, has been perceived by some as a cynical marketing ploy, aimed to appeal to young female consumers who like boys who are in bands, as opposed to girls who are in bands (e.g. The Shangri-Las) or O.A.P.s who are in bands (e.g. Oasis). It is, regardless, more snappy than the original, provisional title: ‘the lads what are in the turn’.
‘The Boys in the Band’ is a concept album of sorts, insofar as it is predicated on the concept that the Libertines should be allowed to record then release an album to the public. Additionally, in true concept-album fashion, a number of themes and motifs are developed across the LP, which include whinging, mispronouncing words and singing atonally.
Pete Doherty is an anagram of Poetry Deth. If Pete Doherty ever realises this, it is a reasonably safe bet that ‘Poetry Deth’ will reappear in a song lyric, in an album title, or on a toilet wall, most probably without the parenthetical qualification ‘[sic]’ immediately following it (unless it occurs to him that ‘sic’ is a homophone of ‘sick’, in which case it most certainly will). Like John Keats, Pete Doherty looks on a felicitous phrase like a lover. Unlike Pete Doherty, John Keats, when assuming the role of a lover, probably did not resemble a rancid, soiled Orc with syringe-induced puncture-holes in its penis. But true poets come in all shapes and sizes.
Here is a sample of Doherty’s poesy. Note the measured use of assonance, the subtle register-switch at the end of the first verse, and the heavy air of desperation that pervades this passage and indeed all of Pete Doherty’s oeuvre in its entirety:
I’ve got a dark itch on my pinky
Better stick a needle in my fringe.
Listen to my poetry (really listen).
Harken to mine roundelay
Ye indie-girls of Olde Albion.
I was a test-tube baby
But my baby tested a poisonous boob tube.
Now she’s dead.
Things like that happen every day
Down in Olde Albion
Way down in Olde Albion.
Let’s stop giving young Doherty all of the attention, even if we all know in our hearts that he really deserves it and is more fascinating than the riddle of sphinx, the crop circles, the secret of eternal life and the current whereabouts of Lord Lucan. Let’s have a look at some of the other sadsacks. The drummer of the Libertines remains unstintingly faithful to the One True Indie Rhythm. ‘Skippity-bum skippity-bum’ go his drums. ‘Hey Libertines drummer’ says Carl Barratt, ‘could you do a rhythm like that one in Parklife?’ ‘What, like skippity-bum skippity-bum?’ replies the drummer. ‘Perfect’ says Carl, and celebrates by doing a weedy twiddle on his guitar and having a sip of wine straight out one of the pockets of Pete Doherty’s fashionable jerkin. This is the sum total of his entire contribution to the Libertines. There may be a fourth member of the group too. It’s hard to work out from the cover alone, as the Nagasaki glow of Barratt and Doherty’s emaciated albino wings eclipses everything else in the photograph.
In conclusion, I give it bollocks out of ten.