I’ve spent years not liking Pete Doherty or his music. I used to look forward to ‘Don’t Look Back in to the Sun’ and ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ (how right they were) coming on in the indie discos of my youth as they presented the ideal opportunity to go to the bar/toilet/smoking area.
I was constantly mystified by his popularity in both the music press and the tabloids. The same went for my peers and their near obsessive behaviour towards The Libertines. I’m still mystified at why the NME continue to live and die by a fifteen year old declaration of the coolest person in music.
Pete seems to have spent a similar amount of time not liking himself very much, which is at once pitiable and exasperating. This is exemplified by his only achievement of late: eating a massive fry-up as he descends in to despairing self-parody.
As it turns out, that’s not all he’s been up to and there’s a new album with a new band. Now that both of us are older perhaps we can both show a more mature side? In some ways Mr Doherty has – he’s gained a few grey hairs and an ‘r’ in addition to the Pete we all know. I’m greyer too. Can I show my mine and remain open minded to new music by The Puta Madres?
The short answer is, unsurprisingly, no.
Peter may be the new face of his music but he still loves crack more than, say, rehearsing. He may have changed his focus from the punky to the poetic, from the city to the sea, but the name of the new band seems like a desperate Spinal Tap-esque attempt at rekindling a long-lost in-your-face rock and roll attitude and relevance among a fanbase who have since left the free entry before 10:30pm with valid NUS and £1 double vodka red bulls behind. It may as well be titled Mickey and the Motherfuckers.
‘Someone Else To Be’ is a long afternoon in GCSE music gone wrong. I feel like I at least owe ‘Lamentable Ballad of Gascogny Avenue’ the effort of thinking of an adjective other than lamentable. The problem is, the one that describes this track best has already been picked. Yes it’s lazy writing but if that’s what you call a song then I don’t know what else you expect.
There’s an element of lazy sticking to preconceptions on my part too I’ll admit. I was clear on my position from the start. I expect the reverse is true of many Doherty obsessives too.
So, an attempt at balance. ‘Paradise Is Under Your Nose’ isn’t too bad with the addition of a second singer (who can actually sing), and the melancholy string and organ riffing of ‘Who’s Been Having You Over’ is likeable. It would be more likeable if it was performed by someone else.
This album isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about Pete or Peter. Pete doing the Pete thing only works as long as there is something else to carry him, be it the talent of Carl Barat in putting and holding the songs together or the rest of the Libertines and the rousing racket they made. I was honestly ready to embrace Peter and a new musical direction but because The Puta Madres are neither of the above, the embrace simply never happened. They are pleasant sounding and capable if not exciting but they do little for Peter other than turn up, presumably more punctually than the man himself. However by closer, ‘Punk Buck Bonafide’, they, appear to be forgotten altogether. We should forget Peter, but, for all I’ve said, I still think it would be a shame if Pete were forgotten too.
Words by James Spearing