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For most people, Babyshambles' frontman Peter Doherty is known more for his short term relationship with supermodel Kate Moss and his longer relationship with crack cocaine and heroin than he is for his music.
After two very public fall-outs with his former band mates of the unpredictable Libertines, Doherty branched out on his own and continued his downward spiral into drug debauchery.
Much like his life, Babyshambles' long awaited debut is a messy, sloppy effort. At times, listening is as exhausting as reading in the tabloids about Doherty's latest arrest or failed stint in rehab. Doherty's unapologetic embrace of his junkie life is a frustrating and - as this album proves - unsuccessful gimmick for selling records.
Drugs are certainly not adding anything to Babyshambles' music. The coherent moments are few and far between and the "tortured artist" shtick will only get you so far. But what comes across loudly from Down in Albion is Babyshambles' potential - or more specifically Doherty's potential - to create real and raw, great post-punk rock. Struggling with drugs is nothing new for rock and roll and certainly somewhat clich , but the music on Down in Albion could have only been produced by someone who is intimate with London's seedy underbelly. It's a raw record with unpolished guitars, slurred vocals and few lucid moments and there is a great record in there somewhere. Down in Albion sounds like an unfinished and incomplete affair that evokes everyone from The Pogues to The Clash and in its unrepentant attitude, Iggy Pop.
In a recent interview in an issue of Britain's top music publication Q, Malcolm McLaren, one-time manager of seminal punk act The Sex Pistols, stated that Doherty is a combination of Sid Vicious and Morrissey.
While Doherty does possess a similar reckless abandonment as Sid Vicious (without the violence of course) and a similar poeticism and emotional frankness as Morrissey, I'm afraid that unless Doherty gets himself cleaned up and off the wayward path he's heading, Down in Albion will be the only the thing we'll remember him by and frankly, the album is quite forgettable.
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