An interesting and rewarding attempt...
Laura Davies

12:19 4th October 2010

So...where are we in the Carl Barat journey then? Disbanded the Dirty Pretty Things after admitting they were more into the partying than the music; venturing into acting; not quite ever receiving the same dizzying heights of intrigue as his former partner in crime; and then getting the rogues back together for a triumphant return at Reading and Leeds festivals.

This, his debut solo attempt, was written before all was forgiven with Pete, so what does he offer the world, on his own terms? A trip down memory lane, that's what. And not those crazy Libertines days, but times of old, where women wore lace and men had pocket watches.

His Dickensian attitude is back. The Russell Brand of the music world mixes speakeasy slur on ‘Je Regrette, Je Regrette’ with old-fashioned knees up on ‘The Magus’. Never updating for a more modern sound, Barat stays true to his preferred century.

When he forgets the unusual plinky-plonk direction and slows it down, the results are stunning. ‘She’s Something’ and ‘Carve My Name’ are love letters of old, singing ‘She’ll take away a poets pen, I’ll never speak of love again.’ You get something extra out of his solo work with each and every listen.

The vibe is lifted again on London-centric ‘Run With The Boys.’ This Dexy's Midnight Runners air appears on more than just the debut single, with the 1980s band also feeling influential on ‘Je Regrette, Je Regrette.’‘The Fall’ sounds like a less grizzly Tom Waits singing in a Parisian jazz club. When Barat’s debut record follows this intriguing formula (‘Shadows Fall’ lingers with you for an age), it has a haunting air of romantic intent, but there are unfortunate moments of confusion, which ultimately bring it down.

An interesting and rewarding attempt, but Barat may have to accept he will always play second fiddle to The Libertines reunion.

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