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Down In Albion

Babyshambles

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Album Review

Throughout his career, Pete Doherty has always been remarkably honest about drawing inspiration from his self-destruction. During his time with the Libertines, his debauchery underscored the band's explosive, teetering-on-the-edge-of-chaos chemistry. But with his post-Libertines group Babyshambles (again, the name is up-front about Doherty's modus operandi), he doesn't just teeter, he jumps right over the edge, as evidenced by the band's debut album, Down in Albion, which is also heavily inspired by Doherty's drug use and troubles with the law. Most of the album's songs are barely beyond the sketch level; some of them, like "A'Rebours" and "32nd of December" are like ragged little urchins, starved of the care and focus it would take to flesh out their promising bones. Even within the album's murkiness, however, hints of the promise and intermittent brilliance Doherty had in the Libertines can still be heard. Interestingly, the most theatrical tracks on Down in Albion have the most clarity. "La Belle et la Bête," a duet between Doherty and his infamous ex, Kate Moss, recasts the turmoil of their life together as meta-cabaret; "What Katy Did Next" brings back the character of his Libertines songs for a tongue-in-cheek cautionary tale (you can practically see Doherty's finger waggling as he sings, "If you play with fire, you will get burned"). Meanwhile, "F**k Forever"'s choruses are rousing enough that you can almost buy into the nihilistic, romantic notion of Doherty alternately escaping and diving into his pain, and "Loyalty Song" is so good that it sounds like it was channeled from some other album.

Biography

Formed: 2004

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formed in spring 2004, just as the Libertines were beginning to fall apart, Babyshambles became the main vessel for Pete Doherty's poetic, chaotic rock when he was ousted from the Libertines for his increasing drug use and erratic behavior. Babyshambles released their self-titled debut 7" in April 2004, and settled on the lineup of Doherty, guitarist Patrick Walden, bassist Drew McConnell, and drummer Gemma Clarke by that summer. That fall, things went relatively smoothly for the band, with a sold-out...
Full bio
Down In Albion, Babyshambles
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