When you mention Pete Doherty’s name, his dalliances with the law and drugs spring to mind first. With stories as varied as stealing a French railway porter’s shoes whilst under the influence of heroin, to trashing former Libertines bandmate Carl Barat’s flat, it’s hardly surprising that Doherty’s musical talent is forgotten in favour of his escapades.
Despite these dabbles with drugs, Doherty is a man that always manages to rise from the ashes, and that is the case with Babyshambles’ latest album. Doherty’s music has always reflected his mood, with Sequel to the Prequel being far more upbeat than previous releases.
Vital to the renewed optimism within the album is the addition of guitarist Mik Whitnall and bassist Drew McConnell to the songwriting credits – this is an album drawn from three men’s backgrounds, rather than just Doherty’s. ‘Farmer’s Daughter’ plays host to an extremely catchy chorus, and despite years of abuse, Doherty’s drawling voice holds up impressively throughout. Having recently moved to Paris, it’s clear to see the city’s influences throughout the album, not least in ‘New Pair’. Beginning with a soft jingle, it’s the type of song you could imagine being played in a backstreet Parisian cafe. ‘Dr. No’ is another track that echoes the sounds of Paris, and is one of my favourites from the album. It’s pretty simply constructed, but bears the sounds of some of Doherty’s earlier melodies. Another favourite is ‘Minefield’, a brooding, menacing track that was actually written during a thunderstorm by the trio; ‘my mind is on the run…’ The lyrics to this are particularly striking, and well worth several listens.
There are some issues with the album though, with the track ‘Penguins’ being a particular stickler of mine. Doherty has effectively written a song about going to the zoo, and the lyrics are lacking, though somewhat frustratingly it’s still got a pretty catchy rhythm to it.
Doherty is known for talking openly about the trials and tribulations he has gone through, with nods to his separation with Kate Moss and falling out with fellow band member Carl Barat in The Libertines second album. This album is no different, with Doherty acknowledging in ‘Fall from Grace’ he has disappeared somewhat off the radar in the recent years; ‘Can we go some place where they know my face, gather round now, bear witness to my fall from grace’.
This album has more catchy melodies than previous releases from Babyshambles, and Paris seems to have calmed Doherty to the extent he can now function with some normality (though for how long, who knows?). The lyrics are still there (bar the odd dud), as is the sense of intense atmosphere that Doherty albums normally enclose, which makes this album an extremely interesting piece of listening, and a quality return to the music scene from the trio. Lets just hope the tour flows as smoothly as this album.
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