Label: Rough Trade
It’s been 18 years since iconic London 4 piece The Libertines, fronted by Pete Doherty and Carl Barat, released their debut LP ‘Up The Bracket’. The UK music scene in 2002 was full of bands like Blink 182 and Greenday from across the pond, the 90’s glory of Britpop had faded away and there was an absence of a real British rock band.
Fortunately for us, The Libertines came along and changed it all. The Libertines debut record generated a huge amount of press coverage caused a revival of British Rock in the charts and paved the way for many British bands.
The album kicks off with very British-sounding statement of intent ‘Vertigo’. Aptly named as its jumpy riffs, banging drums and abrasive guitars leave you feeling dizzy in the best possible way. It makes for the perfect opener to the album as is it sets the tone for what the rest of ‘Up The Bracket’ will be like.
Emotional track ‘Death On The Stairs’ features some more brilliant riffs. The poetic lyricism stands out most on this track with both Pete and Carls vocals sharing the spotlight.
The twisted vocals on ‘Horror Show’ touch on the subject of heroin use. Pete’s solo vocals are full of attitude and desperation here as he screams out racing lyrics about “following your minds instruction”. The end of the track is very sudden and abrupt, a perfect finish for the song.
Written about the 2001 May Day riots ‘Time For Heroes’ went on to become one of the bands greatest singles. It’s easy to see why as the track has become so popular with its legendary lyrics, soaring melodies and an angsty attitude. The track features some of the best Libs guitar solos and lyrics ever written.
‘Boys In The Band’ opens with a simple guitar riff then bursts into a catchy, funk infused sound. The track has an energetic pace and an aggressive feel to it, a classic Libertines track and a huge fan favourite.
The album slows down with acoustic, Beatles-esque track ‘Radio America’. The track wasn’t originally meant to feature on Up The Bracket and that’s probably what its most known for. That, and drunken Carl hitting his head on the drum at the end of the track.
Title track ‘Up The Bracket’ tells a gritty tale about “two shadow men” in London. Filled to the brim with raw emotion and rage the song perfectly represents the attitude of the album, making it a great title track.
‘Tell The King’ features a perfect blend of Pete and Carl’s vocals, slowing it down and stripping it back a bit. The lyrics are about journalists who “cut and paste and twist” stories and showcase Pete Doherty’s song writing gift.
The album picks up the pace again with punk track ‘The Boy Looked At Johnny’. The track was apparently written about the Libs ex bassist Johnny Borrell, who they portray as arrogant and self-important as he asks “don’t you know who I think I am?”.
The next track is ‘Begging’ which has a very raw, emotional and angry energy to it. Gary Powell’s drumming stands out here as he builds to a climax blending in perfectly with the screeching guitars on the track.
Ideological Libertines track ‘The Good Old Days’ is romantic and escapist with its lyrics about “daisy chains and schoolyard games”. It leaves you feeling nostalgic and is a fan favourite.
Closing track ‘I Get Along’ is a fast paced and carries attitude throughout. A strong finish to a strong album.
The Libertines debut LP ‘Up The Bracket’ was a ground-breaking album in British music and is what makes the Libs who they are today. It still their most influential album to date, and with good reason as its burning emotion, restless antagonism and tragic lyrics are still relatable and remain relevant today.
Words by Emma Edwards