OVERANALYZE THIS: Babyshambles
Where, oh, where have all the rock stars gone? Those blithering drug-addled fuckups–tall and charismatic with a Chelsea-boot swagger one minute; pressing a crack pipe into a pet cat’s mouth the next. If our mainstream rock stars are arriving in the form of, say…Pete Wentz, whose biggest blunder was broadcasting his p33n online (yawn), haven’t we lost something in our artistic culture that’s drawn so much naked humanity from bottom-of-a-pit despair? Gimme danger, as a wise man once said. Or else, why are we listening?
As contrived as it may seem, the junkie persona of ex-Libertine/current Babyshamble Pete Doherty might be all we have left. Of course, all this means nothing if the smackhead can’t write a good song, so lucky for us, Doherty’s tales unfurl like a melodic Henry Miller novel, details bent and pronged but nevertheless stemming from his shambled existence.
Taking a clearheaded turn following 2005’s mumbled mess of lazy ramblings Down in Albion, Doherty’s songwriting regained its stride throughout the 2006 EP, The Blinding, boasting a title track every bit as captivating as Libertines’ power anthems “What Became of the Likely Lads” and “Can’t Stand Me Now.” And Shotter’s Nation continues the polished trend, helmed by producer Stephen Street, best known for his work with the Smiths and Blur.
Aggressive cuts such as the guitar-slathered opener “Carry On Up The Morning,” the organ-accented “Crumb Begging” and the slurred rocker “Side of the Road” contrast the jazzy, “Lovecats”-cribbing “There She Goesâ€ and the tenderly haunting acoustic closer “The Lost Art of Murder,” featuring Scottish folkie Bert Jansch, giving Shotter’s Nation the range and vision we knew Doherty had in him. And his lyrical grit, never profound but profoundly relatable nonetheless, serves enough vulnerable emotion (check “Baddies Boogie”) to make you want to root for the guy–even when your best instincts tell you to let the bastard burn. A- –Aaron Richter