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The resurrection of The Libertines: Pete Doherty cleans up

Carl Barât (l.) and Pete Doherty of The Libertines perform on Day 2 of the Leeds Festival on Aug. 28, 2015.Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

Carl Barât (l.) and Pete Doherty of The Libertines perform on Day 2 of the Leeds Festival on Aug. 28, 2015.

“MY GOD, I look like death warmed up,” says Libertines co-leader Pete Doherty.

He’s staring at a picture of himself used to promote the first album in a decade by his groundbreaking rock band.

“I made the fatal mistake of trying to cut my own hair,” the 38-year-old tells the Daily News with a laugh. “It makes me look like I have a good face for radio.”

That’s hardly the image Doherty wants to project on the group’s rollicking return album, “Anthems For Doomed Youth,” out next Friday. The release promises to complete a personal resurrection for Doherty, who became one of the most famous drug abusers of the early 2000s, wrecked by twin addictions to crack cocaine and heroin. “Doomed Youth” also restores his once-close rapport with band co-leader, 37-year-old Carl Barât, who had to throw Doherty out of the band for his ruinous ways back in 2004.

“Carl always did believe in our friendship,” Doherty says. “He just didn’t want to be part of that (addiction).”

Doherty’s excesses made him a tabloid fixture in his native U.K., and put him a dangerous scene with other drug-fueled stars. In 2005, a photo of him taking cocaine with then girlfriend Kate Moss ended up on the front page of The Mirror, costing Moss most of her modeling contracts and leading to the couple’s bitter breakup.

In 2010, Doherty had a then-secret affair with the doomed Amy Winehouse. He witnessed her anorexia firsthand, telling a British tabloid he never saw her eat solid food. He has spoken about his former flame smoking crack and the paranoia it brought about in her.

Surprisingly, Doherty has escaped that fate. Speaking of his recovery Barât says “he’s doing really well and we’re really proud of him. We worked very hard to get ourselves back into a good position. And the album turned out to be everything we wanted it to be.”

The band first started testing the waters of a reunion back in 2010, with a performance at the Reading Festival. They earned encouraging reviews and came together for a few more U.K. shows over the next few years. Doherty says Barât kept checking in on his sobriety. “He said keep it up and I kept it up, and then the band was there again,” Doherty says.

Their restored enthusiasm and brotherly dynamic give the new album the power of pent-up energy finally released. It fully revives the speed, song-craft and devil-may-care character that helped The Libertines set off a major trend. Back at the turn of this century, they led a movement in neo-garage rock along with bands like The Strokes and The Vines. The Libertines’ first two albums, 2002’s “Up The Bracket” and 2004’s self-titled work, brought the brashness of acts like The Clash to a new generation.

“Doomed Youth” restores that verve. They named it after a poem Wilford Owen wrote in sad recognition of all the young men sent to fight in World War 1.

“The fantasy we created for ourselves when we started writing songs was set in the trenches,” Doherty says. “When we say ‘they hand you a gun,’ it’s the same as someone putting a guitar in your hand and pushing you on stage.”

The lyrics on the new album likewise equate being in a band to war. They go out of their way to highlight the hellish experiences the guys have been through over the years. Often, it seems to air out Doherty and Barât’s fury and frustrations with each other.

“We had a lot to deal with,” Barât understates.

In “Gunga Din,” Barât relives his problems with Doherty. “Woke up again to my evil twin … I’m sick and tired of looking at him. Just another day, it feels like nothing’s changed … Oh f–k it, here we go again.”

Elsewhere, the two sing “we thought that they were brothers/but they half murdered each other.”

The lyrics in a song called “You Are My Waterloo” reads “you never fumigate the demons/no matter how much you smoke.”

If that’s not enough, we get verse like “staring up at my therapist/he says, ‘pound for pound, blow for blow/you are the most messed up motherf–ker I know.’”

“We communicate in songs,” says Barât. “There, we can be honest.”

At the same time, the lyrics have a dark humor. “It’s all meant to be funny,” insists Doherty.

At the same time, he’s dead serious about the challenge he faces trying to walk the line. “You want to act like it’s always going to be glorious,” Doherty says of his sobriety. “But, of course, it’s a worry — and it always will be.”



amy winehouse

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Music & Arts – NY Daily News


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