Music fans have a tendency to shudder with scepticism and trepidation upon hearing a band is reuniting, especially when it’s a band that was great. Sure, the live shows we love, who needs an excuse to go down memory lane and party like its 1999? However when the news of new music is introduced, that’s when a problem arises, and that problem is; how will the old match up to the new?
If you’re a band like the Libertines who released two of the best albums of the early 00’s, you have a lot more to lose than you do to gain. Also, if you’re a band like the Libertines whose drug fuelled break-up was one of the ugliest and most explosive of recent times, any die-hard fan would be forgiven for pressing play on a new track with their fingers firmly crossed.
Well, whether you’re a die-hard fan or a newcomer you’re in luck, because within seconds of hearing ‘Gunga Din’ your fingers will be firmly uncrossed, and you will be revelling in the glory of this amazing track. The instantly memorable Dub-Reggae guitar riff, accompanied by one of the most underrated rhythm sections in music (Gary Powell & John Hassall), gets you hooked from the start as Pete Doherty, in his trademark drawl sings: “Woke up again, to my chagrin/ getting sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, again”
A line filled with such dry-wit, Britishness, and a little edge of darkness, could only come from them. “I tried to write/ Cos I’ve got the right to make it look as if I’m doing something with my life” sings Pete; It’s the Libertines at their poetic peak.
As the chorus kicks in things get a little chaotic with an anthem style chant, tailor made for the mosh-pit, before we return to that infectious Reggae riff, and Carl Barat answers Pete’s verse with some darkness of his own: “Woke up again, to my evil twin/ The mirror’s fucking ugly and I’m sick and tired of looking at him”
“Oh fuck it!” sings Carl as his verse ends, and we are back into the chorus.
The image of one of their early anarchic live shows springs to mind as the track comes to an end with a choir of crashing guitars and Pete screaming and swearing until it abruptly finishes.
‘Gunga Din’ seems to do the impossible of looking back while looking forward at the same time. The easy thing for them to do would be to copy ‘Time for Heroes’ 10 times, release it as an album and collect the pay check. Instead they have taken the energy and spirit of their older, much loved songs, and added in new ingredients that not only make this track one of their best, but it also makes their upcoming third album, after an 11-year gap, something to be very excited about.
The Libertines third album ‘Anthems for Doomed Youth’ is due to be released September 4, 2015.