Monday, February 23

Peter Doherty- 'Grace/ Wastelands'

. Monday, February 23

Originally on Gigwise

Pete Doherty; He’s the tabloids rambling, shambling incoherent junkie scumbag of choice, the one you warn your kids about, the most infamous man in pop. Far more famous for what he sticks in his arm and for dating a model two years ago than anything he has ever committed to record or strummed on his guitar. Pete Doherty- the name precedes him. However like Madonna before him Pete Doherty has reinvented himself. He is now Peter Doherty and that extra ‘r’ is bringing an air of cohesion, clarity and a Stephen Street produced solo album with it. Peter is here to show us that the mistakes of the past are part of a closed book and he is now writing on a fresh page.

Ever since ‘Up The Bracket' was released in 2002 there have been whispers about a solo album from Doherty but as his problems and addictions have worsened it seemed the chances of anything coming to light were deteriorating with him. However Pete Doherty signed a contract with Parlophone owing them two Babyshambles albums and one solo effort. So following ‘Shotter’s Nation’ and the live album ‘Oh What A Lovely Tour’ from Babyshambles comes ‘Grace/ Wastelands’ and therein lies the problem with this album- it sounds like something that was due in as opposed to an natural, creative recording.

The reason The Libertines were so brilliant was the song writing craft between Doherty and Carl Barat. Between Carl’s straight up punk aesthetic (woefully exposed with Dirty Pretty Things) and Pete Doherty’s romantic dream pop they hit upon a wonderful middle ground where the literate met the direct, a decade defining clatter of love in the riots. Stripped of Barat’s guidance however and Doherty becomes a wanderer, too happy to meander and explore dead ends. It has been evident with Babyshambles to an extent but left to his own devices Peter's solo album is a more indulgent piece of work all together.

Recorded with Graham Coxon on guitars the album is a full acoustic affair bar the lead single ‘Last Of The English Roses’ which coincidentally is the most interesting moment on the LP. Sounding not unlike Gorillaz it’s a hypnotic dub-light track that drifts in and out of influences with Peter’s voice floating nicely over the top. It is however a misleading window into the album as much of ‘Grace/ Wastelands’ plays out at a monotone pace. Following ‘1939 Returning’ is ‘A Little Death Around The Eyes’(Said to be 20% written by Carl Barat) which melts into ‘Salome’ all three testing the listeners patience and awareness. Too often when listening to this album do you forget it’s even on. Things pick up in the final third of ‘I Am The Rain’ with a big dose of energy coming from a simple “Woah, woah” chorus- it shows that sometimes the easiest route is the best one to take. ‘Sweet Bye and Bye’ conjures up the spirit of a 1920’s speakeasy with its plinky piano and underlay of brass but again it is merely a small glimpse of colour in a wall of beige. ‘Broken Love Songs’ redeems things towards the end, a soaring and anthemic blast of chorus led pop it is a classic Doherty moment and more than hints of what he is capable of. As ‘Grace/ Wastelands’ drips to an end with the wet 'Lady, Don't Fall Backwards' you leave knowing very little more about Peter Doherty than when the record began. Is he still a great songwriter? Yes at times. Is he still not showing what he is capable of? Quite possibly. Is there any chance we will ever hear his definitive work? It is looking increasingly unlikely. With every sub-standard release Doherty is pushing his loyal fan base further away and soon enough they will all wise up to the fact that he maybe doesn’t have that magic they are all waiting for.

Far from the moment Peter realises his true potential ‘Grace/ Wastelands’ is perhaps the moment he is finally exposed.

4/10


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2 comments:

doinel said...

this is so dull review.. wasnt expecting this from you.. 1/2 is about "good old times".. classic well know shit - kate moss, fortunately... and the rest.. some shit you´ve read/hear elsewhere .. and.. nothing.
first I saw 4/10 and was looking forward to your arguments.. really was. but theres nothing. just "idelas" like ´hes not able to fill his potential" etc .. ok.. but why not, whats behind it?
for me (from 5 studio tracks I´ve heard so far)it´s very good yet - produciton is maybe too epic (was hoping for something like cohens I tried to leave you suit) but all these songs are better than anything he wrote is last 3/4 years (of course, 2/3 are pre-down in albion). Of course it will not be better than utb.. but together with dia it might stand..

But you´ve heard it all, not I.. and insted of some opinion you just pick up some songs, write something to them and end it all up with these stupid rherotical questions..

try again

Anonymous said...

miaow!

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