Song of the Week (6th July): Gunga Din // The Libertines


After 11 years of relative silence, fans of Peter, Carl, Gary and John are being treated to a week of non-stop Libertines-based excitement. In the wake of a show-stealing secret set at Glastonbury, ‘Anthems for Doomed Youth’, the bands long-awaited third album, set for an early September release, was revealed to the world. Just as heart rates returned to a stable level and red tunics were peeled from the backs of the more die-hard Libertines amongst us, AFDY’s first single ‘Gunga Din’ has reignited a fire that simply will not die. It seems that 11 years’ worth of confusion and uncertainty has been atoned for in a matter of hours.

The expectation of The Libertines, although huge, is somewhat precarious. Concerning the first single, everyone wanted to be blown away by the tune – there’s unfinished business. 2004’s self-titled record simply couldn’t be the end.  However, with this massive expectation came a sense of unease. Many felt that the band would fall short off the lofty expectations set in the early noughties. ‘Gunga Din’ has well and truly put any qualms to rest.

Aptly, the music video begins with Pete Doherty walking down a bustling street in his quasi-native Thailand. Sultry shots of Carl Barat looking in a dirty mirror are where the goosebumps start to kick in. Suave, suited and booted, the boys meet up to the spiky, jagged sound of Barat’s Melody Maker. The catchy Ska beat sees the pair stroll leisurely through luminous Thai lanes before Doherty’s “dream of Gunga Din” launches the band (made complete by the effortlessly cool John Hassall and Gary Powell) into a classic Libertine chorus – here is when (if you’re as sad and obsessed as I am) you begin to smile as you realise The Libertines have candidly breezed in and picked up where they left off, as if the last 11 years haven’t even happened. “Just another day, it feels like nothing’s changed, oh fuck it well here I go again” sings a certain Mr Barat, capturing the entire mood of the song in just a few lines.

A musical game of table tennis takes place throughout as a hard-hitting, Albion-esque chorus responds to the grit of the impassioned verse, consisting of contentious and reflective lyrics. The quick changes in tempo of the song make for perhaps The Libertines most enthralling to date.

Not only have we been treated to the sound of ‘Gunga Din,’ but the music video will have surely spawned smiles aplenty as many heartfelt Libertines moments ensue whilst the boys in the band stumble together, just as they did all those years ago in the video to ‘Up the Bracket.’ The setting has changed but the band remains, a decade older but just as playful, just as fascinating, and just as brilliant. If ‘Gunga Din’ is anything to go by, 2015 will not be a disappointing year for The Libertines.


Words by George Birch


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