Babyshambles - The Blinding
Bill Cummings 05/12/2006
It's difficult to separate Pete Doherty's music from the soap opera that surrounds him because, in our minds, it's become so intertwined - but I'll try. Like a rabbit in the media's headlights, he's cut a slightly tragic figure in the last few years, lurching from rehab to courtrooms, plagued by his inner demons and the frenzy surrounding his on-off relationship with supermodel Kate Moss.
However, no matter how much fuss there may be, it's hard to dispute his talent buried beneath the crap. In this country at least, the Libertines were one of the last bands to make an important cultural impact. Not just musically, you understand - their two albums produced at most only a single albums' worth of good material - but their overall influence on “the kids”. They created a lot of excitement around new music amongst the younger generations again, imbuing the ghosts of the Clash and the Jam with a modern sensibility, a sense of place so lacking in many bands, a creative spark influenced by both William Blake and their own trials and tribulations.
The Blinding, then, is the new five track EP from Babyshambles (although, it's inadmissible for the charts because it over steps the track limit laid down by those pesky chart bods). Title track “The Blinding” is tight and choppy with a guitar riff that owes more than a smidgeon to Jimi Hendrix's “Foxy Lady”, while Doherty drawls like Joe Strummer doing his best Shane McGowan impression. The first minute and a half of this song is supremely enjoyable, especially with the melancholic Beatles-esque breakdown section - the problem is, save for a few screeching licks, that's just about all there is, and it ends up sounding like it hasn't been fully fleshed out. A shame.
“Love You But You're Green” is a sedate waltz, like a drunken busker doing his best starry-eyed crooner routine - “I was a troubled teen/ I put an advert in a magazine”. Doherty shows off his perceptive pearls of wisdom (“It's only blood from broken hearts that write the words to every song”), but it hardly scratches on the subconscious placed amongst such musical apathy, making it decidedly forgettable. “I Wish” is also throw-away: silly, light hearted ska and clichéd to the extreme.
Luckily, “Beg Steal Or Borrow” turns out to be this EP's trump card with twitchy guitar licks and Doherty unveiling a vocal that shows more ambition than the previous two efforts put together, adopting his tragic romantic croon, he sits in the gutter staring at the stars, delivering an autobiographical master class of life in the spot light, replete with his celebrated turns of phrase. The EP closes with “Sedative”, a drawling attempt at an anthem hamstrung by its lack of a tune, the rousing closing time sing-along chorus does its best, but the whole thing ends up lurching to a ramshackle close.
Taking this EP on its merits alone, there are two pretty good songs here, and Pete sounds more confident and more comfortable on his own than he has done for a while. But, this could quite easily be a single package rather than an EP. It shows signs of the recovery many Doherty fans have been waiting for: Does his rehabilitation back into the music world start here, then? Time will tell.