The Libertines – Up the bracket | Classic Record Review

Yes, this album came out a while back, 9 years back, seems a really long time so much has happened concerning Pete and Carl and their relationship since then. They both went off and made new bands (not so much Carl, as he still had Gary Powell on drums), they both had their solo albums, they re-united and raised all hopes of their devoting fans (including me) and then said they won’t be getting back together any time soon and upset all their devoting fans again (again including me). Although all this has happened I don’t think this should stop me reviewing what I think is one of the perfect albums out there today and not many albums can really top it.

Pete Doherty is a big Tony Hancock fan, and this is where the albums name came from because it was one of Tony Hancocks phrases he used to use and is slang for ‘Punch in the throat’. I don’t know if it was a coincidence (most definitely not), but the phrase also means to snort a line of cocaine. I think it was a coincidence as I don’t think these boys touched that stuff, or did they? Anyways lets have a look at the album.


‘Vertigo’ for those who didn’t know is a type of dizziness, basically that means you feel like your moving when your standing still. It can cause vomiting, nausea that type of stuff. I wanted to mention that just in case nobody knew, now you do know you can put it in the song and will help you ‘get it’. Anyways the song. It’s a great opener because it straight away makes you hear what your in for the rest of the album. Whats the song got? a catchy riff, scratchy guitars, beautiful lyrics, loud drums, hint of attitude and a voice that could sing an owl to sleep at night. So it’s got everything, it doesn’t throw you straight in at the deep end, but it does gently walk you in to the pool after you’ve just been dipping your toes in the water.

2.Death on the stairs

Like the ‘vertigo’ and many of the Libertines songs, another brilliant but simple riff. The riff doesn’t overdo it, sometimes bands can do that and have to many notes, but the Libs liked to keep it simple but pure brilliance. On this song is where you hear Pete’s voice for the first time alone on the album, and what a beautiful sound it is as he softly sings out the words ‘monkey asked the mouse before,if she loved anybody more than he’, which is a line that always sticks in my mind. What I love about this songs is that they had Carl sing first and then Pete, so you go both in that song. A lot of people are torn between libertines songs because they prefer Pete’s voice to Carl’s or the other way round. In this song, both parties are happy. A catchy song that I will never get tired of hearing.


The first song on the album which was purely sung by Pete, which for me makes it special, gives it that extra edge and attitude. Is it the way he sings it? my girlfriend asks, yes, yes it is. The way he screams down the microphone as if he will never get to sing again, the way that in the song he steps away from the mic because I assume he was that into the song, when he sings he sounds desperate I find it amazing he can put that emotion into his singing. He sings ‘the horse is brown’  both words ‘horse’ and ‘brown’ is slang for heroin, so clearly the song is about drugs, which gives that extra danger about it. The song starts fast, ends fast but it ends just a sudden halt. There’s no climax really, you expect it to go on and carry but it just stops. Brilliant.

4.Time for heroes

If you don’t know this song, where have you been? do you listen to music? and if you don’t like the song, I would consider cutting your brain out and investing in another one until you do like it because it’s one of the best songs ever made. It’s got youth and attitude written all over it, the song just makes you want to get up and go bonkers. Pete wrote the song based on the London Mayday riots, as you hear the first words of the first line ‘did you see the….’, are perfect, and the way it’s sung, as if he’s totally out of it. Personally I think this expresses Pete’s best poetry that he’s done. Although it doesn’t rhyme, or he doesn’t use the most glamorous words it still is very powerful. I love how he says that they will die in a class of our own, like even if we’re not good enough for the posh kids we’ll die doing our own thing. Looking at the guitar side of the song, I think this was one of the best solo’s that Mr.Barat ever composed, it was fast, went well with the song and quite hard to master, as I decided to try it and it didn’t go to well.

5.Boys in the band

The start of this song for me beats, any start of any song. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m biased towards the libs or because I haven’t listened to every song in the world. But It just is for me, having Pete’s and Carl’s guitars like shouting back at each other. You have that riff that’s like a kid blowing raspberry and then the other guitar getting gradually getting more angrier with the other one, and then it just bursts into a big fight. Also when they were doing the song at  Reading & Leeds and Pete and Carl were facing towards Gary on drums, you could just feel the energy, they were all pumping each other up. Quite clearly the songs about groupies with the title being ‘boys in the band’ and the lyrics also stating things that they think about the groupies, and that they ‘all get them out for the boys in the band’. The energy and the pace that comes off the song because of the screeching guitars and the drums having that beat is just the libertines all over, again to me it says youth, fun, living fast  and that’s what they wanted from their songs, just pure aggression.  I’m very fond of this song, it’s easily one of my favourite Libs songs.

6.Radio america

Then they slow it down, right down, but the quality doesn’t stop. Pete’s poetry really blossoms in this because everything is slowed down and the guitars are quite soothing and easy listening. He wants to take his love to his girl, but how far will he go to give her that love she deserves. There is a part of the song where Carl’s head hits one of  the symbols of the drum, it’s towards the end listen out for it. Not a song you would expect from the libs, something you would exactly expect off Pete. None the less, just an easy listening tune.

7. Up the bracket

The yelp and scream of Pete at the start of the song just before he shouts ‘get out of it’. The start of that song sums up the whole song, just pure attitude. The song I think is about Pete getting followed by these two gentlemen that would like some information off him, an he didn’t want to divulge this information so he gave them the ‘v’ ( Basically he swore at em’). Having done that, he gets chased up the stairs and met by some people who know those other two gentlemen (blokes). So in that sense it’s a good story telling, obviously not as good ad Dylan, but you couldn’t really have a Dylan song and show aggression,too many words. Having those references about giving him the ‘v’ and naming streets in London makes the song incredibly British, which is a great thing as not a lot of artists manage to do that today. Overall it really is an amazing, from start to finish just none stop anger and raw energy that you only get from a few songs.

8. Tell the king

The daunting start to the song with those guitars making you feel like somebody is coming after you, and the way Carl whispers ‘got a little secret for ya’ you feel like his personally telling you something, just a secret between you and him. Go on tell us Carl. The song for me is about journalists, and no matter what you say or do or how successful you are they can make a mockery of you, they can pick the tiniest thing and make it a worldwide problem. ‘Tell it to your king, go on and tell him everything you know’, great line, saying ‘go on tell the guy who’s going to publish this, tell the world. We don’t even know what your on about’. Without that meaning I don’t think the song could’ve been that great. As you listen to the guitar you feel like your falling through a hole and you can’t do anything.

9. The boy who looked at Jonny

This song I believe to about the lead singer of razorlight Johnny Borrell, I believe he used to play bass for them for while, and lived with them, didn’t get on. He’s arrogant, unless he just portrays to be arrogant but inside his loving soul, who’s just confused and doesn’t know what to do. Great song, with a great little chorus, even your Mom could sing to it if she wanted, unless she already does, in that case your Nan can. I also like the way way Pete shouts down the microphone, you get a sens he really means it when he’s singing it, that gives it that punk affect the libs are known to have.

10. Begging

As the song fades in, you seem to think your in for a quiet one as your mom takes her fingers out her ears. But then suddenly jumps back into the rush and the pace of the rest of the album. I think this song is under rated, as I’ve  found myself and my friends skipping it as we hear the start of the song. When I think,why is it under rated and I look at the song as a whole there’s nothing that’s really lacking. Carl’s singing is immaculate, it’s loud, gets the blood pumping and is well structured. Perhaps it’s because Pete doesn’t pop up in it or maybe it’s because the hook line isn’t too catchy, regardless to those points it’s a good tune. As the song comes to a climax the guitars screech and made me feel as if I was in a whirlwind, got me quite frightened.

11. The good old days

One of the finest lyrical compositions by Pedro and Carlos as this is just a lyrical masterpiece, fair enough you may not hear them sing it so clearly (if not find out) but how they sing it gives it a real feel to it. I’ve seen a few tattoos of these lyrics on people, and I’m sure some people actually live by them. As I sit hear and listen to the song as it’s getting dark outside it has a daunting affect on me, as Pete and Carl’s guitars give me the shivers once again. Having that affect on you it doesn’t lose the pace or the scratchiness of the guitars. A song that is not only heard, but felt.

12. I get along

The best song to have at the end of an album? Well stop asking because here’s you answer, an amazing song and gift to the world “I get along”. Should the Libs have ended the album with a slower song? no, because it wouldn’t have been this one and that would be wrong. The drums at the start make you feel as if the album is starting all over again, and your getting a load of songs coming up. The way Mr.Barat expresses the words “fuck ’em” in this song, just sum up the whole album because those words carry so much attitude. It’s cliche to say that ‘the album leaves you wanting more’, but this actually does because the album starts with an impact of a earthquake that’s hit 5.3 on the Richter scale. So a few house have been knocked down, your corner shops gone, along with your shed and you’ve lost your dog. By the end of the album it’s hit 9.0 on the Richter scale and whole world is split in two and the apocalyptic horsemen have stolen your grandparents, it’s all gone mad. A perfect album, thank you.

Songs to download: The whole thing, seriously.


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