First Listen: The Libertines – All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade

It feels a little churlish to begrudge The Libertines a return to a time in the spotlight. Those London urchins from 21 years ago when Up The Bracket gave us a bit of a jolt not really experienced since the Sex Pistols gloriously offended all and sundry, but now there is two decades of experience and a roller-coaster of indulgences that they’ve all come out of reletively unscathed. A bit older, a bit wiser and having swapped the Caley Road for the promonade in Margate and a hotel cum residential recording studio, also a place across the channel with a French wife, the sedentary 40’s have taken over. And it shows.

The rough edges and ramshackle chaos that charmed so many, have had a bit of a sanding and a sit down with a cup of tea and the result is probably what you’d expect from four men who have seen their fair share of ups and downs and prison cells.

There will be no mention of Indie Sleeze. That’s because it didn’t exist. Now someone trying to apply that to a scene from a time when they were playing with their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and crapping their nappies isn’t going to wash. Mostly with the protagonists. Unlucky NME.

Run, Run, Run’ is actually a fair cross section of their eponymous second LP and a clean living Libertines. It still has the irrepressible Barat and Doherty stamp, a tempo that you feel they wouldn’t keep up throughout the album but it’s good they’ve come out with their guns blazing. There’s a chorus that they’ll be having sung back to them for a few years to come.

They’ve still got the Jolly Rodger slapped on the good ship Albion as it makes it way to Blighty (from France presumably), passing the “sodium grey” cliffs of Dover, on “Merry Old England”.

‘Man With The Melody’ is remarkably close to the Blur record from last year, melancholic and waltzing. A guitar line aping a seaside organ.

“Be Young” fairly predictably is probably the only other track with that trademark old Libs sound. But this isn’t the old Libs. This is sitting on a deckchair, eating an ice cream on a beach in Kent in temperatures only just acceptable to a Brit on Easter Bank Holiday weekend, Libs. However to argue we shouldn’t be looking at what came before in their story is a touch redundant when the band themselves are heavily drenched in nostalgia and always have been.

Most of the time, it’s Harris tweed, acoustic strumming and bowler hats. And that’s fine. We’re all a bit older now, a bit squidgier, a bit more inclined towards a balcony seat than a cracked rib on the barrier at stage front. But not always. Right on the cusp.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.