When the Libertines disbanded back in 2004 its members all went off to concentrate on what they were going to achieve next. Whilst John Hassall had reasonable success with Yeti and Pete Doherty’s Babyshambles won over the avid Libertine fan-base, co-front-man Carl Barat formed the short lived Dirty Pretty Things with fellow Libertine, Gary Powell.
The band enjoyed moderate success but the light was dim in comparison to days gone by. When Dirty Pretty Things came to a close it was time for Carl to put all of his focus into his solo career and October saw the release of Barat’s debut self titled solo record.
Unfortunately for fans of Barat’s previous work, the album is a bit of a let down for an artist who once made his make as one of the most promising musicians over the past 20 years as part of the turbulent yet fruitful Libertines. Such genius it seems has to run out at some point and unfortunately for Barat that luck dried up well before the creation of this self titled solo effort.
The first half of the record is for the most part consistently dreary, little more than quickly pieced together tracks which begins with the opening number, The Magus, a track that stretches in all directions at once aiming for very different results and instead getting lost within itself. Its tinkery foundation matched with Barat’s whiny vocals and thumping circus style rhythm is unflattering for an opening track and serves as the albums introduction very poorly.
The simple acoustic ditty, She’s Something offers a little more punch further down the record. The structure is minimal but works as Barat sings the chorus with a pairing of gentle female vocals and a driving, dramatic guitar thumping.
The bass laden Run With The Boys pulls in a charming horn section that allows the record to evolve in its middle section. The racy chorus is complimented by the horns that offer the album a meaty filling around some impressive guitar riffs.
The Fall is a twinkling, soft spoken anecdote. Poetic slurring delivered by Barat is entwined through a Tim Burton style melody.
What Have I Done is a bluesy addition with an eerie backdrop accompanied by some haunting violins that sit subtle behind Barat’s whiskey drenched crooning. Shadows Fall follows and is a sombre track that oozes melancholy and a slight hint of Americana.
Though the record starts off as a poor attempt for Barat, the mood and optimism that things can change does take hold in the centre of the album and continues to impress to the end of the collection. This is also the main downfall with the record. There is no real consistency and one can become very bored by mid way with the prospect of sitting through the amount of loose, unsympathetic flops that are featured in the first half.
This solo venture is a step away from what we know of Carl Barat. Where Dirty Pretty Things, his post Libertines project, grew from what Libertines had already achieved and used the blue print of his past success only to fail miserably, this attempt to claw his way back to his heights of being a credible musician is a better attempt for the artist however is by no means a record that brings anything new or overly appealing to the table.
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
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