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Carl Barât and the Jackals – Let It Reign | Album Review

Carl Barât and The Jackals’ debut album is unapolegetically short, thrashy and fast, giving the ex-Libertines frontman a voice of his own.

Source: Official Album Artwork

‘Let it Reign’ is an unapologetic, ferocious return for Carl Barât. It kicks off with ‘Glory Days’, a scathing song written in memory of the British soldiers shot for desertion in World War One, setting the punky anarchist tones that rip through the entire 10-song raucous set. The same anti-authoritarian stance tears through ‘Victory Gin’ as Barât growls “We are not afraid of anyone//I defy anyone to tell me I am wrong”, as we picture him swigging straight from a bottle of Gordon’s between gasps like a 21st century Sid Vicious.

‘Summer in the Trenches’ intermingles a ska beat with the regular thrashy garage punk we came to expect with The Libertines’ heavier stuff, signalling a conflict between past and present for Barât. The foreboding ‘A Storm Is Coming’ nods to this as Barat sings “Things will never be the same again” – and sure enough, this band, formed through auditions and showcasing mostly Carl Barât’s solo work, is far removed from his time spent with Pete Doherty in a flat in Camden scrawling out ‘Up the Bracket’.

For the avid Libertines fans, ‘Beginning to See’ reeks of ‘What Katie Did’ mixed with classic Arctic Monkeys ‘Mardy Bum’. The despairing ‘March of the Idle’ shows anger towards a young, apathetic generation – who in turn will probably be listening to the album. ‘We Want More’ replicates the screeching, empty vocals of eighties Pixies, and of course the album wouldn’t be complete without an obvious homage to Doherty – in ‘War of the Roses’, Barât sings “You’re the greatest friend to me//You’re the only friend to me//Nobody cares for me like you.”

‘The Gears’ is an under-two minute burst of freedom, before the smartly-titled, lusciously slow finale – ‘Let it Rain’ is a fitting end to the war-torn album. Changing from ‘reign’ to ‘rain’ almost as a sign of defeat, Barât sweetly croons for the first time in 35 minutes as he says: “No I don’t have the strength to accept what I can’t change//I declare to you now I am done//So let it rain.”

An angry racket on the most part, ‘Let It Reign’ sees Barât hit the ground at full pelt with the debut from his new band. But with deeper undertones of loyalty, love, pain, liberation and defeat, this is a whole new Barât completely separate from his co-frontman Libertines persona. Stepping away from Doherty – but always keeping him firmly on his mind – Barât has constructed a nostalgic, punk-driven album with his own style that nods to the past but looks to the future. Short but sweet.

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