Babyshambles, ‘Shotter’s Nation’ (Astralwerks)

Has rock’n’roll ever produced a less sympathetic junkie genius than Pete Doherty? Biopics like Walk the Line suggest that tortured artists turn to drug and drink in an attempt to navigate a world too harsh for their wounded souls. Yet Doherty, whose arrest record makes Lindsay Lohan look like Dakota Fanning, comes off as a petulant brat with an appetite for self-destruction. His ultimate goal seems no loftier than seeing how far he can push the English judicial system. Here’s Doherty explaining his chronic misbehavior on the new album by Babyshambles, the band he formed following the demise of the late, great Libertines: “It’s not easy getting out of bed.” Well, then — all is forgiven!

According to the classic junkie-genius narrative, Shotter’s Nation — which follows up 2005’s proudly shambolic debut, Down in Albion — should be the record that proves Doherty is capable of Getting His Shit Together. And in a way, it is: Produced with a bright guitar-rock jangle by Stephen Street (the Smiths, Blur), the disc contains some of Doherty’s most coherent tunes yet, including “Baddie’s Boogie,” a thoughtfully observed domestic drama, and “There She Goes,” which is nearly as lovely as the La’s song of the same name. But Shotter’s Nation is still clotted with half-realized melodies and gutter-poet grime. If Doherty wants us to overlook the next time he barfs on our doorstep, he needs to work a little harder to inspire a spirit of generosity.

Now Hear This: Babyshambles – “Delivery” DOWNLOAD MP3

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