Saturday, 3 April 2010

(Not) Time for Heroes

With one eye on this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival line up I saw that The Libertines were getting back together to play their first shows together in four years over the August Bank Holiday weekend, reportedly being offered £1.5 million to do so.

I think its all overhyped bollocks though. Obviously I recognise the importance of the Libertines – they are the British indie band of my generation – but they also have so much to answer for.

Their debut album, Up the Bracket, is one of my favourite albums full stop; an album which is rightly considered to be one of the finest indie albums of the last decade. Capturing the scuzzy uncertainty of wasted youth, it’s abrasive, tragicomic, heart-on-sleeve stylings are what make it such an endearing album, all delivered by what many misled, trilby-wearing idiots would regard as the noughties’ Lennon and McCartney.

The relationship of Pete Doherty and Carl Barat is one of notorious love/hate. A brotherly bond played out like a skaggy soap opera, they were never far away from the cover of the NME. When they first blindly stumbled onto an atrophied indie scene back in 2002 they were viewed as a return to those jolly days of Britpop where life was a party to be enjoyed, a party where you didn’t even have to bring your own booze. They charmed their way through interviews, romanticising a bohemian existence which mainly involved doing drugs, enjoying the works of both Keats and Chas ‘n Dave, and not showering.

Then everything went wrong. Pete Doherty began his long-standing drug problems, his relationship with Barat breaking down in a misty haze of mental distortion and good old-fashioned betrayal. All of this coincided with the recording of their truly atrocious eponymous second album. I remember my enthusiasm evaporating like the dragons Doherty is so keen to chase as I realised that they had become a mere clone of themselves, just another pseudo-jaunty indie band where the music is an annoying distraction from the clothes and the lifestyle.

Never mind. Their eventual break-up began a period of solo projects; Doherty created the unreliable Babyshambles, a source of income for his smack and crack addictions, whilst Barat formed Dirty Pretty Things with former Libertines drummer Gary Powell, the band an embarrassing example of “Landfill Indie” if ever I saw/heard one.

I can understand the excitement for a lot of people that the Libertines are now reuniting: They were arguably the last band to mean something to indie music fans, a band whose charm came from their familiarity and accessibility. However, I can only view this reunion with cynicism. Money has yet again spoken.