ALBUM: Down in Albion
COMMENTS: When I’m not listening to, writing, playing, or talking about music, I usually read about it. My general rule of thumb is to not read about any album I’m reviewing until my review is done. I do this so that my opinions will be my own, and not impacted by the words of someone else. Even though I haven’t read much of anything about Babyshambles, I know that they’ve been getting mixed reviews. That simple knowledge is a strike against them.
But the good news is that I never listened to the Libertines. Apparently, one of the dudes from the Libertines (lead singer maybe? I don’t really know, I’ve never really listened to the Libertines) is the front man of this new band. And while Libertines fans may hate this album right off of the bat because its not a new libertines album, the only snap judgment I could make is that “Babyshambles” is a funny word, like poppycock. Oh those crazy Brits and their gibberish.
But nonsense words aside, let’s get the album. It starts off with “La Bella Et La Bete”; which is a swing number that threatens to lose control and burst out at any moment, but never gets around to it, even though the track is five minutes. The next song, “Fuck Forever” is a sloppy mess; it starts out hard to listen to before springing into a catchy hook that salvages the song. Lead singer and ex Libertine Pete Doherty slurs and wails in an erratic way that is both obnoxious and endearing; he is a fitting mouth piece for this chaotic collection.
Sometimes Babyshambles sounds like The Clash (“A’rebours”) and sometimes sounds just fucking ridiculous ( WTF “Pentonville”?!?!). But mostly, this sounds like the work of a man with a lot of ideas, some better than others, whose previous band wouldn’t allow him the creative room he needs. It jumps from Brit pop, to punk rock, to reggae, to new wave hipster stomp, then back over the same ground again. An album like that, while therapeutic for the creator, lacks the focus needed to make it a good album. But there is something in this albums sloppy riffs and slurred vocals that makes it endearing. At the end of the day, “Down in Albion” is a sexy mess; not so much an album as a collection of songs that play like Franz Ferdinand drunk on cheap vodka and high on pills. This album is that smashed girl at the bar who is spilling drinks all over everyone and making an ass of herself, but is still strangely alluring.
RAITING: 6 out of 10
KEY TRACKS: “Fuck Forever” “32nd of December” “Pipe Down”
WORTH THE MONEY: Not for full record store price, but used or discounted I would say so.