Friday, December 1, 2023
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The Libertines – Run Run Run Review

Hands cold, head aching from staring at screens in the dark and no food to line an ill stomach, what better time to listen to The Libertines? With ears ringing and heart throbbing, a single crumb of a break would do dividends. No. Run Run Run, the latest piece from a returning Pete Docherty and company, is a tremendous breath of fresh air for those who remember those glory days of You’re My Waterloo glory days. It was nine years ago almost – certainly, that will be the case for the release of their latest record, All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade. These Likely Lads return to form with Run Run Run, though it is clear to see times have changed.  

That is the dominating thought over any qualities Run Run Run may find itself pronouncing to the world. Their brash and indie-dependent style is still present but the life on the lash vocals feel jaded and tired, much like those who sang in this style a decade and a half ago. The Libertines’ efforts are falling short, but a welcome return and pulpy chorus steady the ship. London-centric loving and longing is responsible with its instrumentals and where Docherty has held firm with his vocal presence, his lyrical nominations are not up to scratch. Hangovers and one-night stands were overcooked by the time The Inbetweeners wrapped – and though The Libertines are still stuck in those trenches, there is still some love to have for Run Run Run. 

Catchy and short tracks are not few and far between, but the repetitive simplicity found here is decent enough. Flirtations with generic tuning do little to stop the rising promise of the latter half for Run Run Run. Where it may not overcome the Two Door Cinema Club generalities which end up associated with an era or period now dated in the eyes of many – it is reassuring to hear The Libertines still hold musical quality considering their longevity. Harrowing it may be to hear their twenty-fifth anniversary is already a year behind us, it is clear to hear Docherty and company are in fine form. It is just a shame about the dated material within, the blaggers and lovers in Camden Town as though it were still the centre of the world.  

A band enraged and picked apart by the tabloids is no longer the perky piece it once was. Does it detract or add to The Libertines? Much of the era they found themselves in was of overexposure – and now they would be lucky to see their work smuggle its way into the Top 20. Key to the success of Run Run Run is acclimatising to the changing times. Do the charts matter anymore? Do The Libertines? One does, and for the sake of clarity, it is the latter who does. Run Run Run will do little to the stock and respectability of the Docherty-fronted band and it is a far stretch from clueless, but this song of simple rhyming swings and chore-like checklist of booze, belting out the hits and the borderline lad culture found within, is a tremendous shame.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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