Pete Doherty is a tragic hero. But is he a musician troubled by a drug problem, or an addict suffering from a music problem?
Babyshambles’ initial success petered out quickly, songs taking second place to media scandals. Now, after years out of the spotlight, and a near-death experience, the band is alive again.
‘Sequel To The Prequel’ owes lots to bassist Drew McConnell’s recovery from a terrible crash in 2011. After learning to walk again he had a new mission: to make Babyshambles great.
McConnell’s co-written nine of the 12 tracks here, including a personal nod, ‘Picture Me In A Hospital’. It’s the first fully collaborative album Doherty’s been involved in since The Libertines’ ‘Up The Bracket’ – and although he’s the iconic figure, he’s the weakest member.
Truth be told, some of Doherty’s lyrics are very… peculiar. He rambles frenetically from the start of the opening Ramones-style punk gut-punch called ‘Fireman’: “It’s breakfast time / Have a pot of wine”, “Talk about North Korea / Think about your career”. There’s not much to be gleaned from those lyrics, other than that someone should give Pete a cookery show.
Then there’s ‘Penguins’ in which he sings about going to the zoo: “We could see monkeys, we could see snakes / We could see penguins, oh, penguins are great!”
But even the weird lyrics merely add charm to this impressive return. Just listen to the title-track – a jaunty rock ‘n’ roll number – and you can hear a new-found happiness in the trio. Let’s just hope music remains the main addiction.
Words: Simon Butcher
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