The Libertines - ‘What Became Of The Likely Lads?’ (Rough Trade)

19 Oct 2004

scatty, reckless, second 45 from the band's eponymous, 2nd rekkid; release - '04.

The Libertines - 'What Became...?'They're straight with us, that's for sure. To release a single about anything other than the shambles The Libertines find themselves in at the minute would be to foolishly overlook the principles of a group who have always had close to their hearts a will to tell it like it is, not keep their fans in the dark and dispel any kind of nonsense rock and roll myth there might be about the band being some kind of separate mythical, god-like entity to those who follow it. There's no mystery - things are in a mess. And here's just how messy things are.

'What Became of the Likely Lads?' is strikingly, painfully autobiographical. You can already guess who the lads in question are, but this goes beyond a mere shrug of the shoulders whilst on a walk down memory lane. Here, things get bitter - 'If you pipe all summer long, then you're forgiven in a song, well that's a touch, my lad...' - it won't take many guesses to figure that one out either. As we know, this isn't even an up to date post on the bugle. Pete and Carl are still together here, singing every line as if it's the first conversation they've had with each other in months, equal parts 'I miss you' and 'I'm finding it hard to forgive'.

But it's clear the two make better music when they're friends. 'What Became...', whilst a corking tune in many respects, is just too confused, too understandably wrapped up in dilemma to reach the heights of the rousing, heartfelt mini-anthems of their debut - it's the sound of two great songwriters trying to help a scruffy but endearing melody escape from beneath a mountain of problems. You get the same sense of shame by listening to it as you do from stealing your partner's diary for a pre-bedtime read, except you imagine this pair would probably be more likely to forgive your lapse of judgement than your other half. We just hope, for the music's sake, the likely lads feel the same sense of remorse towards each other.

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