Babyshambles - Shotter’s Nation

Ticket touts were hardly at their cockiest upon Babyshambles’ last visit to Manchester to play the revered Apollo Theatre, seating tickets were easier to obtain than parking tickets. Therefore, to announce a tour incorporating the MEN Arena and other venues five times the size of those on the previous tour. Led you to believe that this second album would be akin to the record that Paul Weller (vocals/guitar), Paul McCartney (Bass), John Squire (Guitar) and Chad Smith (drums), always intended to make, but never got round it because they couldn’t decide who was going to drive the van to the studio. However, this is Pete Doherty and his self belief obviously leads him to the viewpoint that if people didn’t get it first time round then they will surely not miss it second time. Opener, ‘Carry on up the Morning’ is the Pete of old and it leans heavily on a slow percussion push and dawdling, slightly intoxicated stop-start vocal toe. Much like the approach his old outfit The Libertines adopted with ‘Tell It to the King’. Lead single, ‘Delivery’ picks up the tempo and has all the ingredients of a solid pop-song.

A more acoustic vibe is prevalent this time around. ‘Unbilotitled’ leans in a blues/folk direction to deliver another sordid tale of seedy life that Doherty can still adeptly put his hand to, despite his increasing life of glitz and glamour. It is ‘Side Of The Road’ that is going to draw more people in and help to fill places like the MEN Arena, for its bounding guitars and whistling frivolity that helps Da Shambles embrace pop, but not lose their rugged edge. ‘Crumb Begging Baghead’ represents a return to the rough edged indie of the first album, but it doesn’t really take things forward.

 Naturally, the pissed-off poetic lyrics are what draw many into this quartet’s lurid world and ‘Baddies Boogie’, represents this quality at its sharpest. Increasing in effectiveness by being delivered from a rustically melodic guitar-led base;

“It’s a lousy life for a washed up wife and a permanently plastered pissed up bastard.”

Those fearful that the rock n’ roll spirit has been left on the shelf this time around, will welcome ‘Deft Left Hand’ like it’s the prodigal son. Generally speaking, this full-length is more insular than anything Doherty has ever done before. With the odd exception, more attention is given to tune-crafting and emotion building. It represents a growth spurt, but whether it is what the Doherty faithful had in mind is quite another matter.

David Adair

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