Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Pete Doherty is one of the more underrated songwriters of his generation, and it's a bit unfair to refer The Libertines as Britain's answer to The Strokes. Despite devoting a lot of time to shooting heroin and banging supermodels, Doherty has been a bit more prolific than Casablancas and Hammond, and the debut album from his post-Libertines output Babyshambles displays much of the songwriting chops that made Up the Bracket something of a modern classic.

Down in Albion has its share of duds and filler (“Sticks and Stones,” “Up in the Morning,” “Merry Go Round”) but for the most part it's a very solid, listenable record, with the sort of rambunctious rock-n-roll The Libertines were known for. Produced by The Clash's Mick Jones, it even shows flashes of London Calling-esque infusions of reggae. The standout tracks show off the kind of glorious songwriting that Doherty does best; songs that seem sloppy on the surface but are actually well-crafted anthems underneath the drunkenly disjointed structures. It's a rather surprisingly re-playable record, as I was a bit shocked to see that I've played all the songs at least 13 times, and the best songs on Down in Albion stand up to the best songs in The Libertines discography.

“Fuck Forever” is the clear gem of this record, though. Pete Doherty may be a fuck-up, but with a line like “I'm so clever / But clever ain't wise,” he's showing off a degree of self-awareness lacking in rock-n-roll stars with similar egos. I'm not completely caught up on Doherty's output since this record; 2007's Shotter's Nation and his 2009 solo record are unheard by me, but I'm in no rush to hear them, since for the most part, I can't stop playing all the great songs from his first three albums.

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