There's some kind of dark magic at work on the new Babyshambles EP. On
first listen (not to mention second, third and even fourth) the title track
and the other four sitting behind it sound like half-hearted, previously
sidelined B-sides or out-takes that will have to do for the time being until
Petey can be bothered to put some effort in again. They seem to lack the
passion we've previously seen on songs such as Albion and Fuck Forever,
hampered by lack of a killer choruses and lazy production.
But somewhere around the tenth listen, when The Blinding rears its riffs
on the iPod again, everything starts to come together. A jaunty ska/reggae
swagger (the influence of a new guitarist and/or a move to Lily Allen's
label), a sing-along, foot-tapping melody and more of a sense of fun than
has perhaps ever been seen on Babyshambles' sometimes over-earnest longings
for the distant shores of a wasted Albion.
Elsewhere on the package, middle track I Wish takes on some playful
fusion ska influences that, while no stranger to the Shambles oeuvre (cf
Pentonville) point more clearly towards a new direction. Love You But You're
Green harks back to the good old days and final track Sedative seeps emotion
from the start. If you've got Beg, Steal or Borrow already, it'll act as a
good reminder of just how good the band were at Get Loaded In The Park -
tight, focussed and together: blinding live.
Stick with it to the end and the whole process becomes an exercise in
remembering what has always been at the centre of Pete Doherty's appeal -
hidden depths that defy the surface problems and compel you not to look
away. On with, on with, on with the show?