Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Babyshambles - Sequel To The Prequel- ALBUM REVIEW



Parlophone Records.

Babyshambles have always divided opinion both in the press and amongst music fans. Some have seen them simply as Pete Doherty’s drug buddies playing in a group with him whilst his ‘proper’ band The Libertines barred him from the good ship Albion due to his self destructive drug habits. A gaggle of chancers looking to gain a bit of fame and publicity on the back of the bespoke suited walking car crash that can be Doherty. For others though Babyshambles have always been the perfect foil for Doherty’s more personal and sometimes ramshackle creations who have managed to steady the ship while Pete chased and circled his wayward muse with equal success and failure on both their debut ‘Down In Albion’ and the sometimes overlooked follow up release ‘Shotter’s Nation’.

Album number 3 ‘Sequel To The Prequel’ is a stone cold sure fire winner! There are not just a few decent songs and a single hidden within the grooves, there are reams of great songs and musically everyone is firing on all cylinders. From the opener ‘The Fireman’ (with it’s Buzzcocks fuel and driving drums!) to the mesmerising ‘Farmers Daughter’ which in my opinion has some of the best vocals from Peter since ‘Breck Rd. Lover’. The first single to be released from the album is ‘Nothing Comes to Nothing’ with it’s tight, catchy arrangement and dare I say ‘POP’ sing along chorus which has managed to move from ‘new’ track to ‘indie classic’ within the week of it’s release. And for those of you that felt the same way after hearing ‘Delivery’ for the first time fear not they haven’t just plucked the strongest song first in a ruse to sell a few more albums this track is just a sign of things to come. Each track on ‘Sequel to The Prequel’ stands alone from the others and has been treated with equal love as a potential favourite that could have easily been the 1st single with matched success.

What separates this album from the others available is how complete each song sounds. Each track sounds free of slack or half finishes lyrics that have been forced due to time constraints or record label impatience. The band changes pace throughout the album with rockers, acoustic tracks (the excellent violin led ‘Picture me in a Hospital’ ) and even flashes of Reggae and dub intertwined. The track ‘Doctor No’ which on paper sounds like it could’ve been the unwanted missing link to ‘Pentonville’ (probably the most skipped over track in the Babyshambles cannon) from the debut and ‘I Wish’ from ‘The Blinding’ EP, easily fits here due to the tight performance from the band who keep the beat steady and grooving while the band offer up some pretty group harmonies a long, long way from the out of tune lost vocals of the album version of ‘Killamangiro’. Not everything is a piece of fried gold mind you, the track ‘New Pair’ sounds unrealised and confusing even for the other members of the group who don’t seem to know where even they’re going next musically after each verse. ‘Maybeline’ is bound to be a future live favourite for the fans although in the sphere of this album it is the closest track to approach the mantle of ‘filler’ and sometimes creeps a bit too close to a Babyshambles by numbers song. The song that has been raising the most eyebrows in the music press has been ‘Penguins’ (the first song Doherty wrote for the album), a simple hymn describing his love for Penguins at the zoo, although like most of his previous output both in song writing and poetry judging a book by it’s cover can be a mistake and I’m sure fans will be dissecting it’s hidden meanings online for many moons to come. The song does have some of Pete’s most simplistic lyrics ever written although sometimes simpler means purer and to think that everything Doherty creates must be a stream of consciousness William Blake-esque poetic gem needs to be moved to one side. It’s beautiful and heartfelt piece no matter the content.

The true heroes of the album in my opinion have to be Bassist, Drew McConnell who the group has been quoted in the press as saying was responsible for influencing and exciting the other members to get back together and attempt to make this album (he also contributes to the song writing throughout). The other is Producer, Stephen Street who has managed to create a strong album that will be palatable to both casual passing fans and diehards without losing any of the Babyshambles grit or soul that they are known for. His work on the good time track ‘Fall from Grace’ (a possible nod the The Pogues?) as well as the whammy bar incendiary wig out ‘Minefield’ which ends the album perfectly shows that he was looking to make their best album as much as they were.

‘Sequel To The Prequel’ is the album that was always promised and whilst glimmers of classic status have often appeared in Babyshambles live performances they have finally delivered on all sides. The next time someone corners you in the Barfly to ask why the hell you should care about some “washed up junkie like Pete Doherty simply palm a copy of this album into their confused and gormless hand, this is the third act and amazingly it may have a happy ending after all.

‘Sequel to The Prequel’ is released on the 2nd September On Parlophone Records Ltd.


many thanks to Jack Delaney and Adrian Hunter

Originally printed via ARTROCKER TV

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