Pete Doherty has just dropped one of the best indie rock records you’re likely to hear this year.
Clearly, channeling the look and lifestyle of a crack-addled rent boy has its advantages: on the back of 18 months of tabloid notoriety and multiple drug busts, Pete Doherty has just dropped one of the best indie rock records you’re likely to hear this year.
We shouldn’t be completely surprised, of course. It’s long been obvious that, the more bedraggled he appears, the tighter Doherty’s songwriting. At the height of last winter’s heroin possession furore, the Babyshambles ringleader slouched on stage at Dublin’s Ambassador and cranked out a whipsmart set. Sure, he dragged a barely coherent Shane MacGowan on at the end, throwing out a predictably shamblolic reading of ‘Dirty ‘Ol Town’. But Doherty’s tired play to the stalls came on the heels of a 90 minute salvo of glittering urchin pop.
Many of the songs debuted that night form the backbone of Shotter’s Nation – ‘shotter’ incidentally being UK street slang for a drug dealer. Produced by Blur wingman Stephen Street, the LP sees Doherty and his crew delivering a sublime suite of bruised Britrock. Gliding on a jangling guitar shuffle and a swooping chorus, the single ‘Delivery’ is Libertines redux. Elsewhere, ‘Unstookie Titled’ finds Doherty giving his battered heart a public airing: lilting and weepy – it’s the kind of sweetly-naive ditty Coldplay might bash out if Chris Martin remembered what a real emotion felt like. Towards the end, the album bleeds into bare-boned acoustica: ‘The Lost Art Of Murder’ has Doherty singing in a cracked croon against a languid campfire strum (the licks are courtesy of Bert Jansch). Ultimately, there’s an unpalatable truth at the heart of this record: sometimes the road to excess really does lead to palace of wisdom.
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