Monday, March 16, 2009


Put A Record On: Pete Doherty Steps Back From The Brink
March 16th, 2009 | London

Pete Doherty seemed to be on a downward spiral after finding success with the Libertines. Following a falling out with bandmate Carl Barât, he unsuccessfully founded Babyshambles, a more debaucherous version of his former post-punk outfit, then became tabloid fodder while battling a heroin addiction and dating Kate Moss. Despite this gritty past, Doherty has revealed his true genius on solo debut Grace/Wastelands.

The collection of songs—some as old as five years and a few newly written gems—exposes a new, more inviting artist. Rather than dwelling on past preoccupations, Grace/Wastelands focuses on Doherty's guitar skills and musical intuition—notably aided by Scottish singer Dot Allison, Blur guitarist Graham Coxon and Blur/The Smiths producer Stephen Street.

The slowed tempo enhances Doherty's dreamy and mythological lyrics, letting his imagination roam while belying autobiographical flourishes. "Sweet By and By," for example, contains references to his relationship with Kate Moss and its abrupt ending, whereas 1939 Returning is a tale of an Englishman living in war-infected Berlin. The first single, "Last of the English Roses," even contains chart-friendly choruses and melodies that make you hum along. Doherty seems to have stepped away from the steep precipice he was been standing upon—this album is no waste, but pure grace.

—David Hellqvist

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