The Libertines

The Libertines have already earned a reputation for being the UK's most notorious louts, garnering splashy headlines for canceled gigs, breakups, arrests, stints in rehab and, of course, enough drugs to make them honorary members of the Keith Richards Society. The quartet's appetite for self-destruction has earned it comparisons to volatile Brit greats such as the Sex Pistols and Oasis, but the group owes a greater musical debt to minimalist neo-rockers like the Strokes and the Hives with a splash of the Clash. The band's success hinges on the volatile relationship between co-front men Pete Doherty and Carl Barat, a percolating chemistry that makes songs such as "What Became of the Likely Lads" a whole lot of sloppy fun. Though the barely coherent Doherty seems to grab more press attention, it's Barat's keen way with a melody that makes a workaday tune like "Can't Stand Me Now" a delicious pop miniature. The group may even be able to build a legacy on its music instead of its behavior if its members -- Doherty in particular -- can keep it together. But the band seems more likely to follow the path of the Pistols by flaming out after a couple of great albums, allowing pundits to debate endlessly what might have been.

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Geoff Harkness