Review: Carl Barat – Run With The Boys

photo: BP Fallon

photo: BP Fallon

It can be difficult keeping up with the events of Carl Barat’s life, with more twists and turns than a soap opera, you only have to blink and you’ve missed another memorable episode. Band breakups, public spats, health scares and reformations all feature on this roller coaster ride of a decade for the Libertine. Yet life is now looking pretty sweet for Carl, having recently regrouped with his first love, the Libertines, and played historic gigs that were met with critical acclaim. He’s also just completed work on his first solo album and written a book of memoirs, demonstrating a work rate that could rival Damon Albarn’s.

My first listen of Carl’s debut solo single, ‘Run With The Boys‘, prompted mixed feelings of relief and apprehension. I was relieved that it didn’t sound like something that was leftover from Dirty Pretty Things, or shared too much similarity with the Libertines, as this is territory we’re already familiar with. Going over old ground when branching out on his own would not have been healthy. It would be the equivalent of Brandon Flowers releasing a song that sounded exactly like his band, the Killers, questioning the whole point of releasing a solo record in the first instant. It was definitely high time for Carl to broaden his horizons, experiment a tad and try something new with his songwriting – which is exactly what he’s done. Despite this relief, I was also slightly apprehensive as it is quite a surprising and unexpected sound to associate with Carl, however, just like drinking whisky straight, it doesn’t go down too well the first time but has its rewards in the long run.

Opening with the initially eye-brow raising sound of trumpets and synths, the song bounces along akin to the Smiths Charming Man with an irresistible hook. Carl’s distinctively charismatic vocal style is accompanied by a poppy melody and there is notably less guitar than what we’re used to from his songs, which takes a back seat and gives way to the trumpets. Its definitely one for the ‘Getting ready to go out on the lash’ iPod play-list and will lend itself well to filling an indie dance floor. Flashes of the Jam’s Town Called Malice and a lyrical reference to London’s Holloway Road make this number a typically English sounding affair.

Polished, slick and different – Run With The Boys may divide fans of Carl’s previous work. The hype and public interest surrounding the Libertines reunion should give his solo material a good platform, yet at the same time will serve as an exemplary contrast to this new direction.

Matt Humphrey

Carl’s self titled album and single ‘Run With The Boys’ is out on October 4th.

He is also on tour in October, tickets can be purchased here

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