The most amazing thing about this British quartet's second album is that it got made at all, considering how co-singer/guitarist Pete Doherty has spent the last two years getting nicked for drugs and switchblades, being jailed for burglarizing his bandmate's flat, and being shipped off to rehab for heroin and crack addictions. And yet somehow this sophomore effort is even better than its precursor. Granted, Up the Bracket's frantic, manic clamor is in short supply on The Libertines, but it's been replaced by a winsome, bleary-eyed sensuality. Guitar riffs stumble and halt, drum patterns stutter as if drunk on pussy or booze, Doherty and Carl Barat purr clever lines that seem muffled by a girl's thighs. Imagine if the Replacements had decided to move to England instead of getting sober, if Westerberg had embraced the Clash's experimental period instead of commercial pap, if a bunch of brazen English sods got all sentimental, singing, "Oh, what became of the life we led?/ Oh, what became of the dreams we had?/ Oh, what became of forever?"
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