Waterloo To Anywhere – Dirty Pretty Things

Label: Vertigo

Named after the 2002 film of the same name about illegal immigrants in London, ex-Libertines Carl Barat and Gary Powell rise from the ashes of what has to be the longest running bong-session in musical history with an album about loyalty, depression and finding that something to live for, sprinkled with ‘mark my words’ assurances and tempered with love. Yes, the Dirty Pretty Things are this month’s most talked-about new band and yes they’re fairly decent. But naturally there’s a lot we want to get off our chests first.

The thing about the Libertines is that they never really were that good in the first place, if truth be known. They had their moments of course. ‘Up The Bracket’, ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’, even ‘You Can’t Stand Me Now’ polished up quite nicely. But what was really exciting was the bust-ups, the fights, the mythology, the boozing, the junk and the internal contradictions: a band as likely to quote Chas and Dave as they were Blake, Wilde and Chatterton. It was the whole sticky discharge we fell in love with, the pitiful squandering, the beautiful waste. Everybody loves a tragic flaw. From Achilles to Georgie Best, genius is best served squandered with weakness and misuse. The Libertines were a story touched by imperfection, blighted by genius. Two guys who could barely play guitar, duelling away at each other amidst a cloud of sexual-tension and both of them well and truly up for it. And what do we have to show for it?  A nostalgia for something that never ultimately took place.

To this end, ‘Waterloo To Anywhere’ is a bit of an Alpha, Omega, first and the last, beginning and the end kind of thing, a joyride from adversity and life lived forever on the threshold of someone else’s crisis, to some place different. Where, we don’t know, but it’s a place where there’s a ‘Good Carl’ and an ‘Evil Carl’ and they’re both getting involved in all manner of dodgy capers with a bit of the old ragamuffin, artful dodgery daring-do’s thrown in for good measure. It’s still fast, it’s still hard and it’s still hedonistic. Sure there’s an obsession with sycophants and vampires and self-seeking blood thirsty leeches but when you’re coming in out of the rain, it still takes a minute or two to put down your umbrella and towel dry your angry mop before you even think about what’s on tele. ‘Blood Thirsty Bastards’, ‘Bang Bang Your Dead’, ‘Deadwood’ – it’s as much about letting go as it is about settling old scores. They’re not songs about Doherty, they’re songs about Barat and each one of them is as sharp and as prickly as a bagful of splinters. Name me another blood-letting as fast and as hard as this, a catharsis more chipper than this, or a complexity more straightforward than this and I’ll show you a man with one leg in his trousers and both feet on the ground.

Class cuts like ‘B.U.R.M.A’ and ‘The Enemy’ ensure repeated plays on my stereo at least, and the Kinks/Jam continuity should ensure success with the fanbase.  What we really have here is a lot more unity, a lot less hype.

Release: Dirty Pretty Things - Waterloo To Anywhere
Review by:
Released: 24 May 2006