Dirty Pretty Things - Waterloo To Anywhere

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Carl Barat's reputation as the (slightly more) responsible Libertine continues with Waterloo to Anywhere, his first album with Dirty Pretty Things, which also features former Libs drummer Gary Powell and guitarist Anthony Rossamundo, who filled in for Pete Doherty on the Libertines' last few tours. The album plays like a cleaner, slightly more straightforward version of the mod-punk Barat contributed to his former band: tightly engineered blasts of sound like "Deadwood" and the limber, bouncy "Doctors & Dealers" get the album off to an impressive start, which should please Libertines fans burned out on Doherty's seemingly endless vicious cycle of arrests and addiction -- and, more importantly, on Babyshambles' erratic performances on stage and in the studio. The snarling wit that Barat brought to the Libertines is also in full force on Waterloo to Anywhere, particularly on the songs Barat claims aren't about his ex-bandmate, but "Evil Carl," aka his own negative traits and demons from when the Libertines were still around. They're definitely songs about leaving someone or something behind: Barat insists that "the enemy is right inside my head" over a beat that snaps and bounces, and wants to "put all the rumors to bed" on Waterloo to Anywhere's standout track, "Bang Bang You're Dead." But, though the album is almost nothing but stomping rockers and Dirty Pretty Things' energy never flags, it feels a little too predictable. The second half of the album particularly suffers from samey songwriting (although the final track, "Last of the Small Town Playboys," is a notable exception), and it's all too tempting to replace Waterloo to Anywhere's less-impressive tracks with the handful of coherent songs from Babyshambles' Down in Albion for a would-be Libertines reunion. Barat's music doesn't have the baggage associated with Doherty's brooding, poetic aspirations, but it doesn't quite have the same impact, either. As their respective post-Libertines albums show, Barat is capable of being very good with Dirty Pretty Things, and Doherty is capable of occasional brilliance with Babyshambles.