Anthems for Doomed Youth
Was it so long ago that Pete Doherty was affectedly quoting forgotten Victorian poets, stepping out with an infamous model, and tossing off smack-lit lyrics like he was Baudelaire with an Epiphone Olympic? Ah, but now The Libertines‘ arch wastrel is ostensibly “clean,” and he and Lib-mate Carl Barât are back fighting the good fight. Admittedly, it bears the scent of glory-grabbing.
But lo, ahead, could this be Arcadia at last? Anthems for Doomed Youth seems to be the record they’d surely meant to make back when they were so busy being a veritable self-contained zeitgeist. One listen to “Fame and Fortune” and its chant of, “Like two soldiers responding to the call / To Camden we will crawl, one and all” and you realize how The Libertines are now brilliantly self-mythologizing their own self-mythologizing. Meta!
No surprise, they also romanticize tramping the streets of London (“I’ll meet you in the shadows by Rochester Square”) and dream of imaginary insurrections (“Nowhere in the institutions / Did they teach that revolution / Was something that could ever come to pass”). Musically, it’s one gloriously canny battle cry of defiantly fired-up Englishness, all spiky punk, ragged folk, obligatory reggae—the neo-Dickensian Clash, if you will. The Likely Lads may no longer be their own nation state, but Anthems for Doomed Youth exultantly proves that even dead revolutions can sometimes have another go. To the barricades!