Most great bands wait at least a decade before breaking up and sticking fans with a string of not-quite-all-there solo albums, but it only took The Libertines three years and two albums to splinter. Emerging from the wreckage: Babyshambles, led by flighty drug addict Pete Doherty, and Dirty Pretty Things, led by Libertines guitarist and chief songwriter Carl Barat. The former released its ragged debut album last year (it arrived stateside this past spring), while the latter has just bowed with Waterloo To Anywhere, a more assured set of mod-ish pop-punk than Babyshambles' disc, though it lacks an essential spark. Waterloo To Anywhere works best when Barat and company combine bouncy, distorted guitar riffs with rambling, discursive lyrics, like on "Doctors And Dealers" and the gleefully sloppy (and Stones-y) "If You Love A Woman." But too many DPT songs sound like "Bang Bang You're Dead," a rotely jagged punk ditty that could just as easily be by Franz Ferdinand or Arctic Monkeys. There are flashes of inspiration and personal expression all over Waterloo To Anywhere, but too much of the record feels unfinished—and worse, one-note.
Then there's the alternative to the flailing of ex-Libertines: the slicked-up version of Libertines-style shamble-rock as performed by London quartet Razorlight. The songs on Razorlight's self-titled sophomore album are generally catchy, clean, and clipped, with a dried-out sound that makes them come off almost like demos, ready to be roughed-up later. They're also, by and large, admirably well-constructed guitar-pop, exemplified by bright winners like "In The Morning" and "Before I Fall To Pieces." Yes, Razorlight's "Pop Song 2006" sounds neither contemporary nor especially poppy, and yes, "America" sounds like something Phil Collins would try to pass off as social commentary. Razorlight ultimately has more in common with Wham! than The Jam, and Bay City Rollers more than The Strokes. But the band can write a hook. Maybe for their next album, the boys can hire Carl Barat to play them.