Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres - Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres - Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres

by Kevin Orton Rating:5 Release Date:2019-04-19
Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres
Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres

Peter Doherty has always been a talented songwriter but he's also a bit of a wanker. Ever since the Libertines crashed and burned, it’s been an exercise in waiting for him to stop fucking about and get down to serious business. His Babyshambles project was aptly named. It had flashes of brilliance coupled with moments of willful self-sabotage. With a band called the Puta Madres, has he finally pulled it together?

 ‘All At Sea’ aptly sums up his output since the Libertines. Doherty delivers it all with his customary half-assed, tongue and cheek aplomb. Musically, however, it has everything we’ve been missing since Pulp broke up. “Where can I go to find the songs I need?” he asks. The answer is apparently the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed. Among other things. Doherty keeps the vocals above a whisper over Stonesy guitar riffs and sets those against decidedly arcadian Cockney Rebel fiddles. Yet, when he delivers bon mots like, “She sells sea shells by the seashore” you just want to punch the mother fucker. If that line didn’t blow your mind, he later he tosses off, “I’ve been working on the railroad.” Its bullshit like this that have always kept Doherty at the foot of the stairway to greatness.

On ‘Who’s Having You Over’, the guitars mean business but vocally Doherty’s affections seem to live up to the title. He’s pretty much doing an imitation of Cockney Rebel’s Steve Harley. There’s a fine line between paying tribute and doing an impersonation. For my money, give me the original over this Rich Little routine any day. Musically, however, there’s certainly nothing to complain about. Doherty’s band is top notch and the violins are a welcome touch. So I don't mean to suggest its all bad. Just lacking in originality. “Paradise is under your nose”, seems a most opportune line to describe the ballad that comes next. Without a doubt, an album highlight. In addition, ‘Narcissistic Teen Makes First XI” really brings classic 90’s Pulp to mind in a good way. A number that deftly manages to mix sincerity and satire.

Despite the misleading title, ‘Somewhere Else To Be’ is little more than a cover of Lou Reed’s, ‘Ride Into The Sun’. Doherty’s performance here verging on parody. Overall, it’s a remarkably self-indulgent take and it pales next to Reed's original. By contrast, ‘The Stream’ peps things up, mimicking Cockney Rebel again with its violins and Steve Harley vocals.  

‘Traveling Tinker’ is the most ambitious and epic number on the album. Going from spoken word to aforementioned genius bon mots like, “I’ve been working on the railroad”. A track that has sporadic moments of beauty but is ultimately an all over the place mess.

‘The Lamentable Ballad of Gascony Avenue’ harks back to Doherty’s Libertines days with Small Faces’ Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake panache. But like much on this long player, it suffers from a deliberately shambolic approach that keeps things from being entirely convincing. ‘A Fool There Was’ continues in this vein. Doherty’s drawling vocals lending it an even more insincere than playful feel.

‘Shoreleave’ is the most Pop moment, the guitars and approach reminding me of Post Card era Orange Juice. For my money, it’s a glimpse of what could be, if Doherty bothered to own his talents. The album ends with a slapdash acoustic number, ‘Punk Buck Bonifide’. Once again bringing Small Faces to mind at their most Odgen Nut Gone Flake. Clearly, the intention here to be playful but there’s just something too cutesy, contrived and self-conscious about it all.

In terms of his influences, Doherty seems to wear them proudly on his sleeve without much inspiration to take them on as his own. And while musically, the band is more bucolic than shambolic, they’re more at odds than in sync with Doherty’s decadent, Like Flies On Sherbet approach. It all makes for an irritating rather than ingratiating listen. Doherty’s talent is clear, I’d just wish he’d get up off his ass and go for it. As opposed to continuing to hide behind his customary, jerk off attitude. Throughout, it’s clear Doherty’s amusing himself, but it’s not necessarily a joke worth being “in” on.

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