Review: The Libertines – All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade

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The Libertines // All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade // Released Friday 5th April 2024

Can it be true? Have the Likely Lads chilled out? Have Pete and Carl kissed and made up for good? 

Well, it seems so. There is very little else that captures the pure reckless abandon of British noughties indie as well as the utter chaos that was The Libertines: DIY shows at house parties, drink, sex, drugs, rock and roll, robbing each other’s houses, prison time, breakups and makeups.

Part of the charm of the band was how they might completely, utterly combust at any time. The fraught nature of the group was so instrumental to their monumental rise: the cream of the scene came out of this bizarre, feudal, fantastic group. 

So comes 2024 and a new album from the very much middle-aged Libertines is here: Pete and Carl, and the rest of the band seem to be on amicable terms, and Pete is clean, which is a feat in itself. Time heals all wounds, but does it allow for top-notch indie tunes? 

By and large, the answer on All Quiet is yes. There are glimpses of prime, chaotic Libs throughout, but on the whole the band’s maturity really shines through here: Pete and Carl each have distinct voices and songs on this record, but they coalesce in harmony. At no point does it feel like the pair are battling to see who “wins” the album, and this sense of prosperity really gells and works with The Libertines. 

Night Of The Hunter is a fantastic moment on the LP, with a lovely feeling of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Pete’s poetry shines through here, and whilst the exuberance of youth melts away, the wisdom and maturity of age is a fantastic look on Docherty, Barrat and the band at large. Mustang is a Strokes-y tune, with big New York-style riffs and driving Albert Hammond Jr guitars throughout. 

The new look Libs have cast a more politicised eye here too, and Merry Old England is a great number, which has all the charm of the quintessentially English band, but the lyrics deconstruct systems and attitudes in this country that mistreat immigrants like it’s a sport. Be Young could be an anthem for Greta, as P and C deal with themes of climate change and ecological collapse. 

At no point do these mature themes seem ill-fitting: there is no suggestion that The Libertines are going above their station here, and their clear growth informs this record exceptionally. Admittedly, there isn’t really anything out of the ordinary here, and the band are playing well and truly to their strengths, but also staying firmly in their comfort zone here. 

7/10

Words: Charlie Brock

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