Waterloo To Anywhere

Dirty Pretty Things

Mercury, 2006


REVIEW BY: Sarah Curristan


2004 was a tumultuous year for all… Brad and Jen on the rocks? Bennifer called off? Britney marrying and divorcing…whoever it was that she married and divorced. For those of us who could care less, and thankfully we’re numerous, the only split worth mourning was that of The Libertines. Formed back in 1997 in London, The Libertines was hailed as one of the greatest English indie acts of recent years despite putting out only two albums.

Fundamental to the band's success was the discernible chemistry between frontmen Pete Doherty and Carl Barât, who each delivered lyrics and melody in equal measure. The band’s decree “to the top of the world, or to the bottom of that river” (referring to London’s River Thames) seemed to sum up their career, which was eventually torn apart by Doherty’s drug addiction and growing tension with Barât. Following the split of The Libertines, Doherty played under Babyshambles (a then side project) and Barât went on to form Dirty Pretty Things.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Waterloo To Anywhere, released in 2006, was Dirty Pretty Things’ first offering. Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive about how either Libertine spin-off band would fare. Doherty always appeared to be the one who carried the band, but this disc shows that the sound of The Libertines came down to Barât.

The problem is that Dirty Pretty Things’ debut doesn’t seem to make enough of a departure from this style to hold their own. This, coupled with the absence of the usual Doherty/Barât sharp lyric collaborations, leaves this sounding like an underachieving Libertines record. Don’t get me wrong, the lyrics are in no way god-awful; there are still some little gems throughout the album, and in some fortunate saving grace, the band’s power-chord clang style seems to work with Barât’s austere vocal delivery.

The first single, “Bang Bang You’re Dead,” can survive a few listens, but the over-repetitive chorus gets a bit tedious after a while. I suppose it’s owed to this song that I bought the album in the first place, but the charm quickly wore off.

The opening track, the exhilarating head-shaker “Deadwood,” sets a higher bar for the album, and followed up by the upbeat “Doctors and Dealers,” gave the impression I had made a good little investment here. Carl Barât’s vocals at times were reticent of The Jam’s Paul Weller (yes, yes bold statement, I know…) -- up until then, it was all going swimmingly.

But towards the middle it all started heading south. There was a certain sameness about most of the tracks that revolved around this overworked power chording business that lacked melody, and aside from “The Enemy” and “Wondering,” which were a welcome break from this style, nothing was really exceptional.

On the whole, lyrically and musically, Waterloo To Anywhere was a bit of a disappointment. Obviously Dirty Pretty Things’ debut was going to be faced with much speculation. It neither crashed and burned nor soared, and unfortunately for them, it didn’t stay on the radar for all too long either. As an album, there’s not much going for it and I don’t think it has much staying power, but there are definitely a few highlights on the album that are worth your time.

Rating: C-

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© 2008 Sarah Curristan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mercury, and is used for informational purposes only.