Libertines’ debut album Up The Bracket is one to be remembered. Led by Pete Doherty, Carl Barat, Gary Powell and John Hassall, the London quartet proves they are a band to watch in the future with their mix of punk and rock influences. Produced by the legendary Mick Jones of The Clash, Up The Bracket has reintroduced teens to a new concept of rock music.

The mid-90s was a disaster for guitar music, as pop became more dominant on the charts and on the shelves. Even the late nineties of British music were in a state of decline; haunted by the brit-pop era of Oasis and Blur. However, when the sun set in the 20th century, the dawn of modern rock was established. Led by The Strokes and The Libertines, a new generation of music was introduced to the media, critics, and most importantly, music lovers.

The Libertines’ first intention as a band was to sign with a major label. When they formed in 2000, they began to have a following; playing impromptu concerts at the band members’ apartments. This not only created a strong foundation for friendship with his fans, but also helped convey his image. This image was soon reinforced when Doherty used the Internet as an alternative means of communication with his fans. This act illustrated two things. The influence that Doherty could have on people through the message boards and that he could always be in contact with someone. As the release of Up The Bracket rolled around, The Libertines’ following grew dramatically as their scheduled concerts soon sold out quickly. Mick Jones realized that he had started a revolution, just as he had with The Clash.

Despite Carl Barat and Pete Doherty’s two main influences on Up The Bracket, the former Clash frontman makes a notable appearance on one track. Horror Show is a brilliant song that captivates the band’s punk roots. “Screw me to death.” Horror Show’s visceral lyrics talk about the effects of alcohol and drugs on the body. Although Doherty knew of its consequences, he would continue to use it throughout the band’s journey. The variety of genres covered in Up The Bracket meant that they could appeal to all sides of the spectrum. The alcohol and drug parallels that are so evident between The Clash and The Libertines were what made Mick Jones the perfect person to produce the perfect album.

The release of Up The Bracket in 2002 was surrounded by the return of Foo Fighter and Coldplay. Therefore, the band did not get the press coverage it deserved. But did they want press coverage? Since no one knew who the band was, newspapers were difficult to come up with preconceptions. They could only be judged by how they sounded. Today everyone knows Pete Doherty as that junkie junkie who dated Kate Moss. However, from songs like Boys In The Band and The Good Old Days, it was clear that he knew how to write a song that could have many levels of interpretation. Boys In The Band is a brilliant postmodern tune, which is an ode to the groupie. “And everyone brings them out … for the boys in the band” The arrogance of such a chorus leads the listener to assume that he is talking about sex. However, according to the band’s bio, The Libertines: Bound Together, it’s more about the alcohol. About a week after the release of Up The Bracket, the band was launched.

As everyone got used to the excess of concerts, drugs, and alcohol surrounding the album, visions of Doherty and Barat soon emerged. I Get Along is a definitive highlight that uses Barat’s clearer voice to send a message to the band’s critics. “People tell me I’m wrong … fuck off.” The lyrics define what a libertine is: a free thinker. There were no rules or place in society for The Libertines and, in Doherty’s case, it gave him the ability to do what he wanted, when he wanted.

Beginning to treat himself (and Barat) with various drugs, the band was soon constantly surrounded by the media. Doherty, whose influences range from Emily Bronte to Morrissey, believed he was on the ship “Albion” that sailed to “Arcadia” where there are no rules or authority. The vision is instantly recognizable in (song name) from Up The Bracket. (Up The Bracket lyrics inserted here). Doherty resembles his vision as the journey of The Libertines, but as he and Barat became increasingly aware of each other’s presence, other terms soon developed. “Death On The Stairs” is both a song and a phrase (devised by Barat) to define people who grow old and do nothing more than watch television. “Don’t bring that ghost to my door” The song illustrates how the band wanted to stay as far away from the term as possible. Ironically, the gang, especially Pete, would indulge in the drugs and alcohol that would lead to his demise. But at the time The Libertines couldn’t be wrong.

Most of their accolades came from major music magazines, spearheaded by NME, who crowned them the best breakthrough band in 2002. The Libertines were propelled into the fast-paced life that involved drinks, drugs, and concerts. However, they were still able to establish a relationship with their fans. Time For Heroes demonstrates how they viewed themselves as “the saviors” of their own generation: “We will die in the class we were born into.” Doherty’s attitude seemed to show that the band was more for the music than the money. Although it consists of a drummer, a bassist and two on guitar, The Libertines still made their intentions heard on Up The Bracket. The different rhythms accompanied by each song on the album proved that they were raw talent.

The distinctive voice of The Libertines was not how they sounded, but what they said. To communicate with their audience, some of the songs used very conversational lyrics. “How Divvy, How Fucking Divvy” Doherty’s use of bad language didn’t make any of the songs sound violent, but smarter. In What A Waster (the debut single) Doherty despite having 6 A * and 5 A grades on GCSE, used very colloquial expressions. This turned out to be a stroke of genius. Although highly criticized by almost everyone, What A Waster wowed its teenage audience. The debut song had managed to do what punk and rock ‘n roll were all about – get them heard nationally and piss everyone off at the same time.

The Libertine’s Up The Bracket not only reintroduced rock music from a different perspective, it proved to be a catalyst for younger generations. Today, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys and The Kooks are helping to continue what The Libertines had started: getting more and more teens to enjoy music and the life that goes with it.

By Joel Girling