Dirty Pretty Things | Waterloo to Anywhere (Mercury)

It’s easy to see Waterloo as a sort of exorcism of the demons that have plagued Barât over the last few years.

 

Since the Libertines fizzled out a couple years back, Carl Barât has been a bit under the radar. Unlike his former bandmate Pete Doherty, whose exploits with crack pipes and supermodels have graced the tabloids on a regular basis, Barât has kept quiet, maintaining a comfortable distance. Which we should be thankful for, because that time outside the spotlight was exactly what he needed to ready his new outfit, Dirty Pretty Things.

This time around, it seems Barât means business. Gone for the most part is the romantic allure that peppered the Libertines’ catalog. Waterloo to Anywhere is all energy, attitude, and more than a little pent-up anger.

And Barât’s had plenty to be pissed off about. Not only did he have the world in his hands when his last band fell apart, he was left to deal with the aftermath of a Doherty-less world tour while shielding himself from a frenzy of media hounds and junkie hangers-on. It’s easy to see Waterloo as a sort of exorcism of the demons that have plagued Barât over the last few years. There are references throughout apparently aimed at Doherty, as on album opener “Deadwood,” which finds Barât singing, “You got the world, boy/This all you make it?/You had the choice, lad/You wouldn’t take it.” Or the lead single “Bang Bang You’re Dead”: “I knew all along/That I was right at the start/About the seeds of the weeds/That grew in your heart.”

The album grows more venomous in spots, touching on corpses in “The Gentry Cove” and calling out “sycophants and vampires” in the “Blood Thirsty Bastards.” “Gin and Milk” finds the singer misunderstood and at odds with the world, moaning, “No one gives a fuck about the values I would die for.”

But to play detective, digging for the veiled intentions and historic references buried behind each track might do a disservice to a debut record that’s excellent on its own terms. Rooted in classic punk but with an infectious pop bounce, it’s both gritty and charming. Waterloo comes off as a tight, tuneful fuck-you to Barât’s past that holds up against anything he recorded with his old band—and this new gang looks to be stable enough to last.

 

RIYL: The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand


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