The conventional wisdom when it comes to any musician(s) choosing which song from their album to release as a single with an accompanying music video is that it’s beneficiary for it to be a combination of two things: catchy and radio-friendly. The logic behind this is obvious; increased frequency on the airwaves exposes you to a wider audience and potential consumers, which in turn adds to the likelihood of monetary value being derived from your endeavours.
So when The Libertines took to social media a few weeks ago to announce that the second video release from their new album – Anthems For Doomed Youth – was in the works (as well as offering fans the opportunity to be featured in it), everyone got to speculating, with anthemic tracks such as ‘Fame And Fortune’ and ‘Fury Of Chonburi’ being the most widely suggested to follow on from the success of where the first single, ‘Gunga Din’, left off.
Naturally enough we were all wrong and neither of those came to fruition, and on Wednesday we were provided with the quite excellent and enthralling visual aid for the eighth song of the album in ‘Heart Of The Matter’.
In typically autobiographical fashion, it provides a sombre and reflective look at the respective past vices of the band’s destructive frontmen Peter Doherty and Carl Barat, and more specifically the damage in which abusing them has caused the twosome as individuals.
This is represented by the pair torturing model versions of themselves, with Peter subjecting his likeness to crack smoking and intravenous heroin use, while Carl consumes copious amounts of cocaine and alcohol before bludgeoning himself over the head (referencing an incident in 2003 where he almost blinded himself in one eye after repeatedly headbutting a bathroom sink in a self-loathing-fueled rage).
The video does not solely deal with the pair in isolation however, as a wider point is also made about their fans and the viewing public at large. The actions of both Peter and Carl take place in individual boxes, the contents of which can be viewed via the insertion of coins into a slot. Joined by drummer Gary Powell, who exudes both concern and disbelief throughout, and bassist John Hassall, who remains stoic yet sullen-faced, the onlookers watch on in amusement and at times even celebration at the duo’s self-torture, serving as a tacit if not conscious endorsement of what they are witnessing.
Ultimately though the salient point is the sheer degree of harm Doherty and Barat inflicted upon themselves, the meaning of which was aptly summarised by the video’s director Roger Sargent: