Music

Carl Barat and the Jackals: Let It Reign

Carl Barat, of Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things fame, blazes a furious, punk-inflected trail with a new band of sidemen.


Carl Barat and the Jackals

Let It Reign

Label: Grand Jury / Cooking Vinyl
US Release Date: 2015-02-17
UK Release Date: 2015-02-16
Amazon
iTunes

Widely known as one-half of the combustible songwriting duo in early-aughts rabble rousers, the Libertines, Carl Barat is back with a solo outing released with his newly formed backing band, the Jackals. Titled Let It Reign, the album blasts through in a short and compact ten-track, 35-minute running time, leaving little space for breathing room as songs are fired off in rapid succession with a degree of critical urgency. Although Barat wrote much of the album’s material prior to the tryout style auditioning process that led him to the current members of the Jackals, he’s stated in interviews that his desire to flesh out his songs with a stronger punch was a reaction to his hesitancy to seem “apologetic” about his songs. He wanted to take a proactive approach to this material, and after a few spins of the album, it’s hard to argue with his vision.

The aura of the Clash hangs heavy over the material, with the rumbling rhythms of lead off track, “Glory Days” (featuring a nice cameo from longtime Beastie Boys percussionist Alfredo Ortiz) setting the template that also pops up again in the nervy propulsion of “Summer in the Trenches” and towards the end of the album, in the call-and-response intensity of “The Gears”. Barat rarely pauses for breath, but when he occasionally does slow things down, he transitions smoothly, like on the surprisingly elegant spiritual manifesto “Beginning to See”, a track that alarmingly brings a small string section to the middle chorus and bridge. Rather than feeling completely out of place on a furious album like this one, the strings bring a nice charming awareness and sensibility to the music, as if even Barat acknowledged the need for a brief respite before stepping back out into the turbulent roar of noise that soon picks back up.

“A Storm Is Coming”, in addition to serving as the album’s lead single and probable best track, anchors the material and displays a convincing confidence in Barat’s vocal delivery. He commands the song, singing with a cool brashness that calmly battles through the weary trials and ominous possibilities foreshadowed in the lyrics: “I don’t mind / I know a storm is coming / Things won’t ever be the same again / You can run this time / It has to be now or never / Sooner or later it has to end." You may interpret that chorus as a nod towards Pete Doherty, his friend/Libertines collaborator/sparring partner for the past decade and a half, and whose addiction struggles have famously plagued their relationship.

Barat more directly addresses their union’s tempestuousness a few songs later, though, in the song “War of the Roses”. Over a heavy swath of guitar fuzz and a blissed out grungy rhythm section, Doherty outlines a history of joyfully shared shenanigans and their resulting negative betrayals and hardships before coming to the conclusion that just maybe the two of them are made for each other: “You’re the greatest friend for me / You’re the only friend to me / Nobody cares for me like you do." When critics and fans wonder what keeps the two gentlemen coming back to work with each other after so much repeated upheaval (like they are now reportedly doing in Thailand, prepping for new Libertines material), this song can serve as a good primer as to the reasons why.

Barat’s next moves are uncertain. Whether he keeps this current incarnation together (they have only a scarce few live dates scheduled), reconfigures Dirty Pretty Things -- his other band of acclaim -- or returns to co-fronting the Libertines remains to be seen. In the interim, however, he’s made a smash with Let It Reign. It’s an affair that is much more snarling and punkish than solemn and introspective and one that appears to have been a good representation of what he had in mind. It feels triumphantly inspired, loose and off the cuff, but filled with enough gravitas to be celebrated and valued. And, as a listener, a fun and exhilarating 35-minute journey.

7
Music
Music

Chewing the Fat: Rapper Fat Tony on His Latest Work From Hip-hop's Leftfield

Fat Tony proves a bright, young artist making waves amongst the new generation of hip-hop upstarts.

Music

The Bobby Lees Strike the Punk-Blues Jugular on Jon Spencer-Produced 'Skin Suit'

The Bobby Lees' Skin Suit is oozing with sex, sweat and joyful abandon. It's a raucous ride from beginning to end. Cover to cover, this thing's got you by the short hairs.

Music

Khruangbin Add Vocals But Keep the Funk on 'Mordechai'

Khruangbin's third album Mordechai is a showcase for their chemistry and musical chops.

Music

Daniel Avery's Versatility Is Spread Rather Thin on 'Love + Light'

Because it occasionally breaks new ground, Daniel Avery's Love + Light avoids being an afterthought from start to finish. The best moments here are generally the hardest-hitting ones.

Music

Buscabulla Chronicle a Return to Puerto Rico in Chic Synthwave on 'Regresa'

Buscabulla's authenticity -- along with dynamite production chops and musicianship -- is irreplaceable, and it makes Regresa a truly soulful synthwave release.

Music

Why Australia's Alice Ivy Doesn't Want to Sleep

Alice Ivy walks a fine line between chillwave cool and Big Beat freakouts, and her 2018 debut record was an electropop wonder. Now, in the middle of a pandemic, she tries to keep the good vibes going with a new record decked out in endless collaborations.

Music

12 Essential Kate Bush Songs

While Kate Bush is a national treasure in the UK, American listeners don't know her as well. The following 12 songs capture her irrepressible spirit.

Books
Featured: Top of Home Page

'Breathing Through the Wound' Will Leave You Gasping for Air

As dizzying as Víctor Del Árbol's philosophy of crime may appear, the layering of motifs in Breathing Through the Wound is vertiginous.

Books

'Perramus: The City and Oblivion' Depicts Argentina's Violent Anti-Communist Purge

Juan Sasturain and Alberto Breccia's graphic novel Peraramus: The City and Oblivion, is an absurd and existential odyssey of a political dissident who can't remember his name.

Books

Five Women Who Fought the Patriarchy

Whether one chooses to read Square Haunting for the sketches of the five fascinating women, or to understand how misogyny and patriarchy constricted intellectual and public life in the period, Francesca Wade's book is a superb achievement.

Reading Pandemics

Parable Pandemics: Octavia E. Butler and Racialized Labor

Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, informed by a deep understanding of the intersectionality of dying ecologies, disease, and structural racism, exposes the ways capitalism's insatiable hunger for profit eclipses humanitarian responses to pandemics.

Film
Film

The Cyclops and the Sunken Place: Narrative Control in 'Watchmen' and 'Get Out'

Hollywood is increasing Black representation but Damon Lindelof and Jordan Peele challenge audiences to question the authenticity of this system.

Film

Director Denis Côté on Making Film Fearlessly

In this interview with PopMatters, director Denis Côté recalls 2010's Curling (now on Blu-Ray) discusses film as a "creative experiment in time", and making films for an audience excited by the idea of filling in playful narrative gaps.

Film

Rediscovering Japanese Director Tomu Uchida

A world-class filmmaker of diverse styles, we take a look at Tomu Uchida's very different Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji and The Mad Fox.

Film

Contemporary Urbanity and Blackness in 'New Jack City'

Hood films are a jarring eviction notice for traditional Civil Rights rhetoric and, possibly, leadership -- in other words, "What has the Civil Rights movement done for me lately?"

Recent
Music

Chewing the Fat: Rapper Fat Tony on His Latest Work From Hip-hop's Leftfield

Fat Tony proves a bright, young artist making waves amongst the new generation of hip-hop upstarts.

Music

The Bobby Lees Strike the Punk-Blues Jugular on Jon Spencer-Produced 'Skin Suit'

The Bobby Lees' Skin Suit is oozing with sex, sweat and joyful abandon. It's a raucous ride from beginning to end. Cover to cover, this thing's got you by the short hairs.

Books

'Perramus: The City and Oblivion' Depicts Argentina's Violent Anti-Communist Purge

Juan Sasturain and Alberto Breccia's graphic novel Peraramus: The City and Oblivion, is an absurd and existential odyssey of a political dissident who can't remember his name.

Music

Daniel Avery's Versatility Is Spread Rather Thin on 'Love + Light'

Because it occasionally breaks new ground, Daniel Avery's Love + Light avoids being an afterthought from start to finish. The best moments here are generally the hardest-hitting ones.

Music

Khruangbin Add Vocals But Keep the Funk on 'Mordechai'

Khruangbin's third album Mordechai is a showcase for their chemistry and musical chops.

Music

Buscabulla Chronicle a Return to Puerto Rico in Chic Synthwave on 'Regresa'

Buscabulla's authenticity -- along with dynamite production chops and musicianship -- is irreplaceable, and it makes Regresa a truly soulful synthwave release.

Film

The Cyclops and the Sunken Place: Narrative Control in 'Watchmen' and 'Get Out'

Hollywood is increasing Black representation but Damon Lindelof and Jordan Peele challenge audiences to question the authenticity of this system.

Featured: Top of Home Page

'Breathing Through the Wound' Will Leave You Gasping for Air

As dizzying as Víctor Del Árbol's philosophy of crime may appear, the layering of motifs in Breathing Through the Wound is vertiginous.

Music

12 Essential Kate Bush Songs

While Kate Bush is a national treasure in the UK, American listeners don't know her as well. The following 12 songs capture her irrepressible spirit.

Music

Tatsuya Nakatani and Shane Parish Replace Form with Risk on 'Interactivity'

The more any notions of preconceived musicality are flicked to the curb, the more absorbing Tatsuya Nakatani and Shane Parish's Interactivity gets.

Music

Martin Green's Junkshop Yields the Gritty, Weird Story of Britpop Wannabes

Featuring a litany of otherwise-forgotten budget bin purchases, Martin Green's two-disc overview of coulda-been Britpop contenders knows little of genre confines, making for a fun historical detour if nothing else.

Reviews

Haux Compellingly Explores Pain via 'Violence in a Quiet Mind'

By returning to defined moments of pain and struggle, Haux cultivates breathtaking music built on quiet, albeit intense, anguish.

Reviews

'Stratoplay' Revels in the Delicious New Wave of the Revillos

Cherry Red Records' six-disc Revillos compilation, Stratoplay, successfully charts the convoluted history of Scottish new wave sensations.

Reviews

Rising Young Jazz Pianist Micah Thomas Debuts with 'Tide'

Micah Thomas' Tide is the debut of a young jazz pianist who is comfortable and fluent in a "new mainstream": abstraction as well as tonality, freedom as well as technical complexity.

Music

Why Australia's Alice Ivy Doesn't Want to Sleep

Alice Ivy walks a fine line between chillwave cool and Big Beat freakouts, and her 2018 debut record was an electropop wonder. Now, in the middle of a pandemic, she tries to keep the good vibes going with a new record decked out in endless collaborations.

Books

Five Women Who Fought the Patriarchy

Whether one chooses to read Square Haunting for the sketches of the five fascinating women, or to understand how misogyny and patriarchy constricted intellectual and public life in the period, Francesca Wade's book is a superb achievement.

Film

Director Denis Côté on Making Film Fearlessly

In this interview with PopMatters, director Denis Côté recalls 2010's Curling (now on Blu-Ray) discusses film as a "creative experiment in time", and making films for an audience excited by the idea of filling in playful narrative gaps.

Music

Learning to Take a Picture: An Interview With Inara George

Inara George is unafraid to explore life's more difficult and tender moments. Discussion of her latest music, The Youth of Angst, leads to stories of working with Van Dyke Parks and getting David Lee Roth's musical approval.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.