We preview Pete Doherty's new record
Babyshambles‘ eagerly awaited new album will be out later this year – and we’ve got an exclusive track-by-track preview for you here.
Anthony Thornton, The author of the 2006 book The Libertines: Bound Together, has listened to the as-yet-untitled record – and below is his verdict.
‘Carry On Up The Morning’
Starting with a rambunctious solo as prickly and spiky as anything on ‘Down In Albion’, momentarily it sounds like it will be a close cousin of that record. Then the whole band sweeps in and it’s clear it’s completely different. It sounds big and anthemic without compromising. And then there’s the first surprise: Pete Doherty swaps lines – almost to the point of duetting – with himself. It’s disorientating but very cool.
Key lyric: “Given up trying to explain/Put it in a song instead.”
The first single from the album features a riff reminiscent of The Kinks‘ ‘All Day And All Of The Night’. The passionate chorus, driven by Mick Whitnall’s arpeggios seemingly take the song to an emotional peak before and a chorus of ‘oooohs’ pushes it even higher. A demo version was available on the Stookie + Jim Bumfest Demos.
Key lyric: “I’m fucked, forlorn, frozen beneath the summer/Don’t sing along or you’ll get what I got.”
Shuffles on with a kind of swagger of Blondie’s ‘One Way Or Another’ with a staccato riff. Pete mangles the phrase “You Talk” so it becomes a vocal refrain part-accusative, part jealous.
Key lyric: “Songs are just a game/ I’m getting better at cheating at.”
Featuring a story with a cast of characters including Doherty, Wolfman and Mick Whitnall (Blue Eyes) this delicate arrangement is one of the prettiest melodies of the album. It’s probably the only recorded song featuring a plea to put trousers on.
Key lyric: “Wolfman said to Blue Eyes ‘put your trousers back on.’”
‘Side Of the Road’
Has been around since The Libertines’ 2003 New York sessions (confusingly called ‘The Babyshambles Sessions’) a loose ramshackle guitar riff that sounds like the ‘Steptoe & Son’ TV theme, accelerates into a punk thrash featuring Doherty’s machine-gun delivery.
Key lyric: “Half dead a third alive a quarter ticking/ over on the middle by the side of the road.”
‘Crumb Begging Baghead’
A verse that sounds like cross between The Stone Roses and a classic 1960s garage rock track with a juddering guitar riff. The outro is a Hammond Organ–driven double speed outro.
Key lyric: “I’m crumb-begging baghead baby/”I bet you say that to all the girls.”
Inspired by a guitar riff from ‘Fuck Forever’ (Doherty even quotes the song) the delicate riff and restrained music bursts into one of Babyshambles’ catchiest songs.
Key lyric: “You smoke your cigarettes down to the bone.”
‘French Dog Blues’
Named after Doherty’s hand-drawn French Dog that adorns the cover of ‘Down In Albion’. Delicate waves of guitar ebb and flow as before a Who-esque peak.
Key lyric: “So this washes over you/My French Dog Blues.”
‘There She Goes’
Originally drafted and played solo acoustic by Doherty, this one features upright double bass and brushes giving it a loose jazzy feel wonderful at odds with anything the songwriter has done previously except, perhaps, on the very earliest Libertines demos.
Key lyric: “Caught sight of her white plimsoll/You were dancing to Northern Soul.”
This is story of a relationship that started with fireworks and finds them 20 years later loathing each other. A great insistent riff
A poetic riff in the middle that out-miserables the likes of Plan B and will have crowds screaming a belligerent “lousy life” at the top of their lungs come autumn.
Key lyric: “Thinking she’s far too good looking/To do the cooking/Oooh, that was twenty years ago.”
‘Deft Left Hand’
From the massive insistent guitar riff, before falling on a staccato subtle toy xylophone and repeating riff and a massive chorus of “Iiiiiii wanna stay by your side”, the song showcases how producer Stephen Street’s input has expanded Babyshambles‘ musical scope.
Key lyric: “Went from cheery vagabondage to cold-blued luxury/In four years.”
‘The Lost Art Of Murder’
First aired on the ‘Friday Night With Jonathan Ross’ show, this recording features ‘60s folk legend Bert Jansch accompanies him (he last performed it at Hackney Empire on Jansch’s ‘Needle Of Death’). Doherty‘s lilting voice weaves with the guitar on this precise delicate final song.
Key lyric: “You call yourself a killer boy but the only thing you’re killing is your time.”
Also in this week’s NME, we go backstage and down the front at Artic Monkeys’ big Manchester shows, and we start the campaign to finally get the Sex Pistols‘ ‘God Save The Queen’ to Number One.
We also run the rule over the eagerly awaited debut album from Kate Nash.
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