Whether Carl Barat decided to start a new band because the Libertines were too closely associated with Pete Doherty or because he had the good sense to respect the name is pretty much beside the point. Though he brought drummer Gary Powell along with him (a brilliant idea, by the way), Dirty Pretty Things could never be the Libertines, no matter what Roger Waters says about kicking drug addicts out of their own band. Barat has instead taken his own path and written a record that, well, sounds a lot like his Libertines contributions, though after the debacle that was Doherty’s Babyshambles debut, that’s probably a good thing.
Although it’s a top-heavy record, Waterloo to Anywhere gets stronger with each listen; the melodies come through and the energy that at first seems restrained starts to break free. Barat’s songs have always been less immediate than Doherty’s, perhaps a little too indicative of the two writers’ seemingly disparate personas, so comparing a rock-star fronting such as “Fuck Forever” to the more subdued “Bang Bang You’re Dead” might find the latter coming up short. But like so many songs on this debut, the various influences eventually become nothing more than glue holding together a superior melody and a great hook. It doesn’t hurt that the band members throw themselves behind the compositions; it might be difficult to find a more sincere and straightforward rock record this year.
Still, Waterloo to Anywhere can’t help but feel of its time, a record that will be remembered as a response to the Libertines’ break-up, though the fact that it has yet to find distribution in America should demonstrate how little we care what’s going on across the sea. If the Libertines really are dead, and if Doherty burns out or fades away, Waterloo to Anywhere shows conclusively that Barat is willing and able to carry the torch, even if Dirty Pretty Things is unlikely to surpass previous triumphs.