Review: Peter Doherty, ‘Grace/Wastelands’

Peter Doherty, ‘Grace/Wastelands’: Aidin Vaziri | Most people know Britain’s second most popular drug addict by name, but few have heard his music. Despite the outsize tabloid fascination with his death-defying chemical intake, romance with Kate Moss and occasional prison stays, Pete Doherty has actually done very little of note. Sure, his first band, the Libertines, seemed poised to update the Smiths’ romantic imagery and shambolic melodies but it all fell apart too soon, after the doe-eyed singer clashed with his creative partner Carl Barat – and then robbed his flat while the rest of the group was on tour. Doherty’s next outfit, Babyshambles, scored an unexpected Top 10 hit in Britain with the song “Killamangiro,” but quickly took a backseat to the front man’s reported $2,000-a-day crack habit. Having managed to stay out of the headlines for the past few months, his first solo album could finally make the case for Doherty, the musician. But like all his other output, it’s a record that casually veers from brilliance to indolence. When he’s fully present, the results are fantastic – vulnerable, poetic and gently swaggering tunes such as “Broken Love Song” and “The Last of the English Roses.” It’s the stuff that makes his fans tolerate everything else. Doherty, however, too often sounds like he’s merely drifting along, filling out the record with too many rambling ballads to make it his defining statement. Producer Stephen Street and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon do their best to keep him focused, but old habits die hard.

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