[4] The Libertines, ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’

The Libertines

“An ending fitting for the start” – the CD clicked and spluttered in the car stereo until this song became a succession of quickfire tuts. “Is that the Easter Bunny?” asked Junior. I wouldn’t like to see Pete Doherty prancing around my garden, hiding foil-wrapped items among the pine needles.

Earlier she’d sought confirmation that it was two people singing. Fair enough, it’s hard to tell with Doherty and Carl Barât, their voices interchangeable as they exchange barbs and pleas and let their life’s work crumble around their ears. This almost-swansong comes from a patchy second album, but the debut’s vim and swagger trumpeted a band of huge promise – promise squandered by a ghoul-faced buffoon of a smackhead with idiot “light fingers”. Here’s to that solo album, Peter!

Is this record really so great? Does it just profit in context? Something stirs me – the control-free guitar, the sourness and release of the singing, the bye-bye harmonica (“I’ve got a pink one of those, Daddy”). It’s the Noughties ‘Ballad Of John And Yoko’, served up to the same mixed feelings.

The boy kicked out at the world: