Given the Libertines' history -- two fiery punk albums, acrimonious breakup, copious drug and alcohol abuse, most publicly by guitarist Pete Doherty, who was arrested 20 times -- you'd think their third album "Anthems for Doomed Youth" (Virgin EMI) would be more of a rock and roll assault. But it's downright soft-spoken, with singer Carl Barat emphasizing storytelling, like on "Dead for Love," a piano-heavy film noir that deals with a body on the floor; the title track, which opens with a reference to the Clash's "Death or Glory" before concluding that everybody's going nowhere; and the rueful "You're My Waterloo," in which he declares, "I'm just glad we know just what to do, and exactly who to blame." That's not to say the reunited British band lacks fire on its first album since 2004's "The Libertines" -- the opening "Barbarians," "Heart of the Matter" and "Fury of Chonburi" suggest drummer Gary Powell and bassist John Hassall are as energetic as ever. Its pleasures are merely more nuanced. Fans of The Replacements know this story well.

 

THE LIBERTINES

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"Anthems for Doomed Youth"

GRADE B

BOTTOM LINE (Mostly) soft and not-bad comeback attempt by British punk heroes