The Bloody Classics - Dirty Pretty Things
Dirty Pretty Things Waterloo to Anywhere 2006, Mercury Records
Doctors and Dealers
Bang Bang You're Dead
Blood Thirsty Bastards
The Gentry Cove
Gin & Milk
If You Love a Woman
Last of the Small Town Playboys
Formed in 2005 by Carl Barât, after the implosion of The Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things were a short lived band, breaking up in 2008 after only 2 albums. Their first, Waterloo to Anywhere reached number 3 in the chart.
If you’ve come to this album looking for The Liberties Mark II, "Deadwood" won’t disappoint as it definitely has the frenetic energy of a Libertines song. "Doctors and Dealers" continues the great catchy energy with very strong guitars. The horn section gives a slower start to the slightly glam-rocky first single "Bang Bang You're Dead" but then the thrashing drums kick in and it continues in the same vein as before. "Blood Thirsty Bastards" finally slows the pace down but it’s still a solid thrashing guitar track. "The Gentry Cove" has a cool sinister ska vibe which is another nice slight change of pace. "Gin & Milk" is back to normal service with the thrashing guitars and fast paced lyrics. "Both The Enemy" and "If You Love a Woman" are weak tracks that don’t seem to manage to keep their tempo or your interest. You Fucking Love It is by far the punkyest track, it’s sounds so much like a Buzzcocks song that it almost gets lost in its own shouting. Wondering is probably the album’s highlight, a perfect mix of The Libertines and The Jam with, strangely, what feels like a little touch of Elastica. It has all the elements of a brilliant, dirty rock song. "Last of the Small Town Playboys" keeps the quality up. It’s slower, bordering on languid in places, but the tune is strong and it sticks in your head. The album closes with "B.U.R.M.A." where Carl almost sounds like an old time crooner. It’s a bit jarring and you feel you could have done without it.
To say it doesn’t feel a bit like The Libertines would obviously be a lie, but it’s much tighter and there is less of the sense of impending disaster that you got with The Libertines’ albums. It doesn’t quite reach the same levels of brilliance though, although Carl’s lyrics are much more accomplished overall. Drummer Gary Powell is probably what makes this feel most similar to The Libertines showing exactly how important his skills were to both bands. Indeed it’s the rhythm section that holds this entire album together.
Overall, this is a decent album. Dirty Pretty Things were certainly a great band live, and much more consistent than The Libertines. It feels like that they only had a limited pool of ideas and it’s understandable that they only lasted a few years as a band. The frenetic energy of this scene in the mid 2000s was just unsustainable for everyone. Waterloo to Anywhere didn’t change the world and probably didn’t inspire anyone, but it’s a strong album that doesn’t deserve to be overshadowed by its most famous creator’s previous works.