It is noted that at the beginning of the 19th century the Marquis de Sade wrote, “The more defects a man may have, the older he is, the less lovable, the more resounding his success.”
Perhaps it will be noted that at the beginning of the 21st century, The Libertines sang on their second album:
“Cornered, the boy, kicked out at the world
The world kicked back a lot fucking harder
Now, if you wanna try, if you wanna try
There’s no worse you could do, Uh oh oh.”
Doubtful, but then the delights of de Sade mimicry have their unfortunate end: he died in an insane asylum where he had spent the last 11 years of his life.
Pete Doherty, The Libertines’ co-songwriter has spent the last two years seeking de Sade’s vision of success. He has also been excommunicated from the band after a series of vice and violent crimes. In no particular order, some facts: burglarized fellow band mate; concealed switchblade; escaped Buddhist rehab center (in Thailand!).
But the band, to wear thin the de Sade analogy, is called The Libertines: the others’ antics and philosophy only seem saintly next to Doherty’s.
And so, the group’s eponymous-titled sophomore album is a bit sloppier but also much more true than their first, Up the Bracket. A man-child charm reminiscent of The Kinks imbues the music: cheeky wit now envisioned as cheeky nihilism.
It ends up sounding like 14 variations (plus bonus track) on Sid Vicious’s drunk cover of Sinatra’s “My Way.” That is a good thing, though. In vino veritas: there is truth in wine.
Writing of Hitchcock, Chaplin, and Renoir, Truffaut reasoned, “If one accepts the concept that a perfect execution often conceals the filmmaker’s intentions, one must admit that the ‘great flawed film’ may reveal more vividly the picture’s raison d’etre.”
The Libertines may not be a masterpiece, but for a band so taken with flaws, it is great.