Pete Doherty. Pete. Doherty. There are few names in music today that bring up as many descriptions as his manages to draw forth. A drug addict? Without a doubt. A general, overall douche bag as a person? It’s darn likely. A talented, potential-filled musician? Heck yes. If there’s one thing that Doherty proved in his early years with the Libertines, it was that he can, in fact, make some hella-cool music when he actually puts forth an effort. He was erratic at best when in the Libertines, always popping up in the press for some misdemeanor or another, and often pissing off his fellow band members in the process.
When the Libertines finally did implode, Doherty soon haphazardly formed his current vehicle Babyshambles. On this set of wings he has put out the marginally passing indie long-player Down In Albion not too long ago—and has even managed to miss more concerts than he has actually played on his sporadic touring schedule (which is for the most part often dictated by jail sentences and probation stemming from his apparently unbreakable drug habit). If an example of the “self-destructive rock & roller” ever existed; it would without a doubt be Pete Doherty.
Now, after knowing all this, how does the music actually stack up? Once you push all the headlines, the missed gigs, the affairs with supermodels, and pissing contests to the side; is there any substance actually left to find? As with most things concerning Doherty, the answer is complicated.
One thing Babyshambles, unlike the fantastic rock group the Libertines, will never be accused of is being the saviors of rock and roll. On Ghosts In Albion the band put together some passable rock and dark pop tracks. But now, on The Blinding EP, they’ve lain down their rocker status and instead opted to expand on from that into the range of pop greats such as John Lennon, and the like.
Things open familiar enough, with the promising up-beat rocker “The Blinding,” but then a swift change of pace sweeps in with the remaining four tracks. From second song “Love You But You’re Green,” all the way to the closer “Sedative,” Doherty delivers at times dazzling, and at times pathetic, efforts at making himself immortal. The promise is still there, and it boggles the mind to imagine just how good a musician he could be if he would actually put forth some effort toward it.
Like the Babyshambles live show, The Blinding EP is pretty darn good when the band actually shows up; but almost half of the time you’re still left standing with your friends in the bar, disappointed and wondering what ditch Doherty has passed out in this time.
(Parlophone / EMI)