Dirty Pretty Things
Waterloo to Anywhere
t’s difficult to see where Dirty Pretty Things begins and The Libertines end. As well as Libertines frontman Carl Barât and drummer Gary Powell, Dirty Pretty Things include former guitar tech John Rossomando and bassist Didz Hammond (who has jumped the sinking Cooper Temple Clause to join), both of whom actually stood in for Pete Doherty at Libertines shows, in the US and Germany respectively, in 2003. The Doherty-less tours reinforced the idea that Carl Barât was really the one central driving force behind the band, but it’s perhaps not that surprising—given the often lukewarm reactions to those tours—that Barât hasn’t chosen to brave releasing another album under the Libertines name.
So there is nothing unexpected about Waterloo to Anywhere being extremely familiar: It’s anarchic garage-rock owing as great a debt as ever to The Clash and The Jam, with songs that spend most of their time teetering on the edge of breaking apart. Guitars are once again wielded like duelling weapons, lines are once again sung that could refer to Barât’s relationship with Doherty. Given the disaster that was Babyshambles’ Down In Albion, isn’t it reasonable to actually believe / be relieved that Waterloo to Anywhere could almost pass as a third Libertines album? In fact, it’s hard to imagine that, had they stayed together, The Libertines would ever have released an album this tight and cohesive. There’s no sign of the acoustic crap or distracted meandering that was sandwiched between their best moments. Here, those moments sound like lead single “Bang Bang You’re Dead,” a shuffling, accusatory slice of catchy guitar pop and the joyfully mindless, brutally fast blast of “You Fucking Love It.” "The Gentry Cove" even includes a very brief, calming (but not quite acoustic!) break halfway through before plunging back into the maelstrom. (It’d be the sweetest moment of the whole album, if it weren’t undermined slightly by referencing corpses.)
But paranoia and death are a constant with Barât. More or less every song sees him attacking one adversary or other, be it the “coward” with “holes in [their] soul” of “Deadwood,” the “crackpot quacks with cracked up egos” of “Doctors And Dealers,” the “Bloodthirsty Bastards,” or the people who don’t give “two fucks about the values I would kill for” in “Gin And Milk.” That’s the biggest problem with Waterloo to Anywhere. Even if you didn’t know or care about their story, The Libertines thrived equally on the romantic nature of two friends against the world and on the tension between them, both in their personalities and voices. With other members of Dirty Pretty Things making only making minimal vocal contributions, the tension is lacking. It’s one man railing against the world. With no foil to Barât’s grumpiness and bitterness, it’s therefore difficult to see anyone getting nearly excited enough to love Dirty Pretty Things as much as many loved The Libertines.
Reviewed by: Iain Forrester
Reviewed on: 2006-05-10