Carl Barat

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Carl Barat recorded a song called France in the early 2000s, it appeared on the widely circulated Libertines bootleg recordings Legs XI and Babyshambles Sessions and quickly became a fan favourite. It's a song that Barat hasn't really surpassed almost a decade later, but with this new album he returns, fleetingly, to the themes and melodies which made France such a timeless cult classic. Although the sleeve of Barat's solo debut looks like something that a major label exec would knock up for Preston (out of Preston and Chantelle), the much discussed artwork and contents have almost certainly had no whiff of industry meddling. Although there are a few pop numbers on the record, the underlying pattern is a pleasing gothic horror refrain which features prominently on opener "The Magus" and more successfully later on in "The Fall". There is, however, a high proportion of forgettable or mis-stepped contributions which turn the album into a slightly odd mish-mash of dodgy synth and grand orchestral arrangements. "Je Regrette, Je Regrette" is a title which could be seen as pretentious but the song itself is in fact a tribute to an insanely popular iPhone App (this is not true, but it does include the chorus "angry birds, such angry birds"). The song is actually a pretty poor sub-latter-day-Britpop piece which should have ideally been left to the cutting room floor. It's when Barat slows it down a touch that he starts to hit the right notes; "Carve My Name" is a dark acoustic ballad with nice orchestral touches and "Shadows Fall" is moribund in the Jacques Brel vein. "Run With The Boys" on the other hand sounds like Hall & Oates' "Maneater". It's also one of the better songs on the record...read into that what you will. All in all though, despite some decidedly dodgy lyrics and one or two ill advised ventures, this album is an enjoyable debut with enough musical quality and interesting ideas to be worth a spin.