Monday, 16 September 2013

The Unrelenting Genius of Pete Doherty and Babyshambles

Back to blogging. It's been a while since I've written anything, but then I have no desire to force out words over music that doesn't get my pulse racing, and it has indeed been a while since an album has emerged from the murky, unreliable undercurrent of the 21st century music industry and, to my utmost pleasure, unapologetically smashed me around the face. As I stroll through life, I often try to make sense of myself via the medium of song. If I find life particularly taxing at any given moment, the chances are that I'm lacking the solace; the private empathetic and inspirational weapon that I inject into my ear drums and utilise as a survival technique to deal with anything that comes my way. Fortunately for me then that Babyshambles' latest offering; Sequel to the Prequel, came about just at the crucial moment that I could use Mr Doherty's special brand of gentlemanly, intellectual punk-poetry to wistfully strut around to.

Sequel to the Prequel has it all. It generously delivers everything that we've learnt to expect from a Babyshambles album; great riffs, tattoo-ably brilliant lyrics, raw attitude and the kind of swagger that, with a few exceptions, we have not really been treated to since the heady rock n' roll golden ages of yesteryear. With this album comes the poignant reminder that music like this does not come along every day, and when listening to Sequel to the Prequel for the first time, it was a joyous end to a musical drought that I didn't even realise was raging. Pete Doherty has once again proven himself to be the ring master of it all; a remorseless hunter of hedonism and a loveable rogue with a lifeblood of creativity pulsing through every (other) vein. Time and time again the world has been guilty of questioning whether he has taken things too far this time; 'has the genius dried up?' a thousand ignorant journalists ask in futile rhetoric, and the answer is of course; no. His lifestyle breeds inspiration and creativity, and thankfully his unique talent to act as the satellite for these moonstruck thoughts and experiences means that we all get to revel in his exploits.

The album is fantastic. There's not a great deal to say apart from; listen to it yourself. Listen to it as you walk through the crisp autumn air, listen to it on buses, play it unreasonably loud from park benches, listen to it in the dark, put it on when you're lying in bed alone, put it on when you're lying in bed together. It's got it all. The ballsy opener of Fireman is an old school punk anthem, unexpected and sloppy but in that unique and loveable Babyshambles way. While the lead single Nothing Comes to Nothing isn't them at their best, it still has it's own merit and is a prime example of Pete's hopeless romantic side, full of longing and self-contradiction; 'nothing ever comes to nothing without my baby/nothing's ever good for nothing with that lady'. 

Personally, it's track three and onward that has elbowed this album into becoming a permanent tool in my enduring arsenal.  Every song that follows has it's own excellent cocktail to bring to the party; often reminiscent of their older works but in a great way; a way that quenches your thirst and adds to the hunger for more Babyshambles, not in a way that so many bands have done recently by churning out what sounds like an alternative take on their one (off) masterpiece. Songs like New Park and Maybeline are so undeniably born of this band and yet so satisfyingly fresh that twenty-five or so listens later I'm still getting kicks off every note. The obligatory 'Shambles interlude - Sequel to the Prequel - actually manifests into a full on piece of artistry which left me feeling a fool for dismissing it as another Pentonville. 

While it's hard not to discuss every song, I shall attempt not to in respect of my own loathing for those awful reviews which dissect albums like insects in a Petrie dish instead of appreciating them as they were intended; a fifty-ish minute experience built for your sensual pleasure. A special mention must go out to my three favourite tracks however (at least, my three favourites at this incredibly specific moment at 8.49pm on Monday 16th September 2013); Dr No where the band once again bring their unique reggae inspired sound to the forefront, Penguins which contains some of the most outstandingly simple and yet undeniably perfect lyrics I've heard for a long while; 'I really don't like your boyfriend's face/and I'm going to try and take his place', and finally; Minefield. I would go as far as to rate Minefield as the best song of 2013. Seriously. The guitar is so deeply sexual, the lyrics so penetrating, the eruption of the song so volcanic - all I want to do when I listen to this song is lose my shit in a sweaty club, safe in the knowledge that nothing outside of that moment in space and time will ever matter. 

Listen to it. 

When one reaches the end of the deluxe version to find a typically endearing Doherty cover of the Velvet Underground's After Hours, it is hard to want any more from life. After Hours has, for many years, been a fantastic song, and while the lyrics are so dreamily spot-on, encapsulating a feeling and a moment in time that is all so perfect - this version injects a little more joy to the occasion, not leaving you feeling quite so dirty about never wanting to see the day again. Although still a little dirty, obviously. 

In conclusion, there is no disappointment to be found within the rich, expansive lands of Sequel to the Prequel. There are wonders and surprises to be found in every song, with every listen. Like all the best lyricists, Pete's words are layered in such a way that you can find a new favourite line for each hour of the day, and then some. In my wildest desires a more perfect soundtrack to these uncertain autumn months could not have fallen into my hands, and the fact that it was delivered by the majestic Doherty - a man who once told me I had powerful eyes as he smoked my menthol cigarette in a dark Camden doorway - makes it all the more delicious. I now anticipate the arrival of this audio in it's most attractive twelve inch physical format, when I shall revel in discovering it all over again.

Turn off those lights. Here's Minefield;

No comments:

Post a Comment

My Zimbio