After a prolonged stay in Paris, it had been rumoured that a newly-Bohemian Pete Doherty had adequately cleaned himself up to record a suitable successor to 2007’s Shotter’s Nation. Sequel To The Prequel is a fair effort, with the odd stand-out moment, but still presents Doherty as a mere shadow of the musician he once could have been.
The album explodes into life with first track, ‘Fireman’, the most urgent guitar song of 2013; as urgent as leaving the pub without stopping off at the toilet and then having to wait twenty minutes for the bus home. In its 100 seconds, it tells the story of the past half a century of rock n roll; a ‘White Riot’ riff, socially anxious lyrics (“Talk about North Korea / Think about your career”) and a simple, dancefloor singalong chorus. Hell, it’s almost, almost, as good as The Libertines‘ finest work.
With the album’s ‘Fuck Forever’ moment happening in the first track, however, this ensures that everything goes steadily downhill from here. ‘Nothing Comes To Nothing’ and ‘Farmers Daughter’ desperately want to be Libertines tracks; there’s that same-old storytelling, the jangly riffs and big choruses. They’re just missing something, though: the spark and rawness that Carl Barat brought to the table. As a result, they verge dangerously on the precipice of the indie landfill, one foot over the edge and the other slowly losing its grip. Not dissimilar to Pete Doherty’s life, I suppose.
‘Maybelline’ threatens to rejuvenate a tiring album. It harks back to the pinnacle of Britpop, all Stone Roses ‘ooohs’ and Suede choruses. You can expect it to soundtrack a BBC sitcom in the near future. Sadly, it’s not enough to turn around what is now a rapidly disintegrating album. The title track borrows its vocal melody from ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’. Yes, really. ‘Dr. No’ is dire faux-reggae; the kind of thing that The Clash‘s ‘Hammersmith Palais’ would’ve been had they been able to play their instruments.
‘Picture Me In A Hospital’ bobs along nicely with its orchestral strings, yet its lyrics hit all too close to home. Final song, ‘Minefield’, is Doherty showing his reflective side, aiming for Morrissey yet only reaching Stereophonics – a wet end to an album, which could’ve been saved by a killer final track.
Sequel To The Prequel is by no means a typically ‘bad’ album. A new band releasing this as their debut would have every right to be proud, it’s just a shame watching Doherty sacrifice his past heroism for such mediocrity. A special mention for Stephen Street as producer, however, who does a fine job with a set of average songs.
…Alex is listening to Theo Verney – ‘Count It Up’…