Dirty Pretty Things – Romance At Short Notice

16Jul08

I always considered Carl Barat, vocally if not lyrically, to be a sort of poor man’s Joe Strummer, but on his second post-Libertines offering from the Dirty Pretty Things (who themselves are a retooled version of the latter day Doherty-less touring lineup of the former band) he slips a notch or two more to end up something resembling the homeless man’s Joe Strummer. (rimshot worthy? no? fine then…)

While Waterloo To Anywhere was hardly without flaw, as an album it chugged along like a well-oiled machine lubricated with big sloppy helpings of noisy guitar, big drums and the occasional hook; anything it may have lacked in the lyrical department (namely, Pete Doherty) was more than made up for by the slabs of unabashedly pure rock fury — not to mention an extremely loud production job with their secret weapon, Gary Powell, mixed front and centre.

Not so with Romance At Short Notice.

Whether one can chalk it up to the ever popular ‘maturing’ process that always seems to take hold of major-label acts at this juncture in their career or just a good old-fashioned drying up of creative juices, Barat seems to be treading water.

The songs are generally much more beige and sonically reigned in. The guitars are thin, pushed to the margins, with Melody Maker raunch replaced by acoustic sheen in an alarming number of instances — which would be fine if the lyrics were there to complete the singerly-songwriterly sound equation, but Barat seems content to cram as many as words as possible, as many generically accusatory almost-clever couplets into each measure in order to distract us from the simple fact that he really has nothing to say about anything.

Just the same old “you did this, you did that, you did too many drugs/I did too many drugs, England’s great but the Queen is kind of silly so let’s go down the boozer, get pissed, and maybe have sex afterwards” sort of bullshit that he’s been mining since Pete spurned him for Katie.

Elsewhere, and most unforgivingly, the drums sound like they were recorded on a single-mic boom box propped on a toilet tank in a stall of whatever suburban warehouse bathroom this steaming brown pile of product was recorded in.

But whatever. I think there’s a couple of decent tunes in there somewhere and a couple of pretty little melodies, but I don’t really care enough to bother searching for them again.

In closing: Pete Doherty is fucked and Carl Barat is not, but there isn’t much else to say. Were the Libertines actually any good, or was it all just a dream?

Either way, Romance At Short Notice makes it clear that it’s time to move on.

Or maybe I’m just in a bad mood.

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2 Responses to “Dirty Pretty Things – Romance At Short Notice”

  1. 1 Poppy

    Yes, in all honesty I think you were in a bad mood. The genre has changed slightly. Alot more accoustic, but who said bands had to stick to the same genre anyway, it’s making music to inspire what matters and I think it’s safe to say this album has managed that.

    Libertines were amazing and hopefully will be again some day. Babyshambles are also great and Doherty has done the occassinal accoustic and not been slaughtered (“Lost Art of Murder”) I think this album is easily as good as the last. If not, better. Well it has been for me.

  2. 2 arsebundren

    Perhaps I should give it another chance then. It’s not the acoustic touches that bother me, though… just the fact that the supposedly more rocking tunes fall flat. But, yeah, maybe it was mood related in the first place.


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