March 12, 2009

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Peter Doherty, Grace/Wastelands
Astralwerks Records, March 24

No one should actually want Britain’s second-most famous druggie-jailbird to fail and relapse, and maybe ex-Libertines/Babyshambles frontman Doherty really is into the idea of picking up where songs like “Lost Art of Murder” left off, that being an unplugged Kinks-inflected commingling of Tom Waits and Randy Newman.

Fresh out of London’s Wormwood Scrubs prison, where a bunch of Gollum-skinned football-hooligan inmate blokes was hatching a plan to do him in and give the UK tabloids one less thing to yammer about, Doherty is also no longer a part of Kate Moss’s stick-figure life, thus what better way to while away the hours than by floating around in a virtual rowboat in a virtual fishing hole — that’s what this is, you see, lazily strummed, Ringo Starr-like not-really-folk tunes festooned with lyrics feigning interest in death, being famous, being single, being famous and single and near-death, etc., whatever he’s babbling about.

Fine, “Last of English Roses” speed-dials the old Clash influence for something that amounts to the skeleton of “Magnificent Seven,” but forget about that. By the by, all the Babyshambles guys play on this LP, along with Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, and none of the songs actually suck per se. B-EWS