I haven't done any album reviews for awhile (or movie reviews for that matter) and I think it is high time I write a few.
I want to start off by saying this: Sometimes I feel when I talk about music I am stating the obvious (I recomend Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd- duh). That everyone knows about this band or that album and me writing a review about it is just over kill.
But then I'll mention a band and a friend of mine has no idea who I am talking about, which makes me want to write more. My classic example is the band Dispatch. A couple summers ago, a friend and I took a road trip to Boston for Dispatch's last concert ever, The Last Dispatch. When I would ask people if they were going, or wanted to go with us (or when I'd be telling them about my weekend), I would ask them if they knew of Dispatch. People had one of two responses: 1) No, what kind of music do they play? or 2) Of course I know who Dispatch is, asshole. So either they had no idea what I was talking about or they were disgusted that I even asked.
So what I'm saying is this: either you will be already familiar with these bands or you never had heard of them.
As I've stated in this space before, I love the Libertines. They are one of my favorite bands; I love both of their albums and I own a bunch of their EPs and singles. They broke up in 2004, basically after Pete Doherty lost control of his life due to drugs.
The first band to come of the Libertines rubble was Babyshambles. This was Doherty's band and the album was called Down In Albion.
Babyshambles - Down In Albion
I was really excited for Down in Albion, it was the first recording by a Libertine after their break up and I wanted to see how coherent Doherty sounded. Doherty was in the news constantly for his relationship with model Kate Moss and their respective drug problems.
Unfortunatly, DiA sounds just like you would expect: sloppy. Are there highlights? Of course, but you have to sit through a bunch of gunk to get to them.
The first two tracks in particular are pretty good. The opening track, "La belle et la bete" is pretty nice. It is a kind of rambling, sparse song, though it is catchy. Kate Moss makes an appearence on the chorus. She doesn't sing well, but it kinda goes with the songs style (I like it).
The next track, "Fuck Forever," is the bands first single. It isn't a bad song per se, but isn't isn't that great in my opinion. It is filled with some catchy hooks (the opening is particularly catchy). This is also one of the more fully formed songs on the CD. The third track, "A’rebours", is okay, nothing special. "The 32nd of December" starts off really sunny, with a real nice organ riff. This may be my favorite song on the entire CD. The lryics (and even some of the style) reminds me of the Kinks.
After the first four songs, we get a more sloppy sound. "Pipedown" sounds like Doherty (and the back up singers) are just mumbling lines, mostly incoherently. Doherty nicks some old nursery rhymes for some of the lyrics on "Sticks and Stones" (which takes a while to start up). "Sticks and Stones" does have a little ska-lite feeling to it, which is kind of nice, but nothing really special.
"Killamangiro" is okay. It is more upbeat than most of the album, but still not as good as it could be. It is definitely one of the better tracks on the CD. The guitar part in particular is pretty sweet. Doherty's incoherent moaning works better here (it actually follows the song a bit). The next track, "8 Dead Boys", is another sloppy effort; again, not awful, but not what you know it could be. "In Love with a Feeling" again, is pretty sloppy. The playing, the singing- everything. It is kind of frustrating.
One of the more confusing tracks is "Pentonville." This song is a rap/rasta dance hall style performance. It isn't Doherty rapping, it's some dude he met while in jail. Again, not awful, but it doesn't exactly fit with the rest of the album; in fact it sticks out like a sore thumb.
"What Katy did Next" is a play on the Libertines "What Katie Did" (from their self-titled second album). It is mostly forgettable. As is the next track, "Albion" (though once it finally starts, the song kinda remind me of OAR's "Dakota"). To be fair "Albion" is a nice little laid back accoustic track, but after 11 tracks of laid back rock, you're not really down for another slow track. But that's just me.
The rest of the album is mostly forgettable. "Back from the Dead" isn't really that good, "What did I Dream" starts off well, but just kind of repeats itself. "Up the Morning" is the highlight of the last quarter of the album. Sure, it is sloppy as hell (I usually enjoy the little studio sounds/chatter but this album is full of so much of it that it gets kinda old). "Up the Morning" builds slowly, but the chorus is pretty damn good; a nice little singalong. The final song, "Merry go Round", isn't that great.
Usually, I like long CDs; the more songs the better. But Down in Albion rambles on a bit long. 16 tracks is a bit much, especially considering that a lot of the songs sound similar (in key and tempo) and sound half-finished. Individually, a lot of tracks could be pretty good, but taken as a whole album, you wish Doherty could've whittled the tracklist down to 12 or so songs and really work those to all they are worth. It isn't a bad album. But it isn't that great either.
Track Highlights: "La belle et la bete", "Fuck Forever", "The 32nd of December", "Killamangiro" and "Up the Morning" (and hell, check out "Albion" as well).