Babyshambles – 'The Sequel to the Prequel' album review

Doherty doubters will remain unconvinced, but for the faithful this is a welcome return

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5

There was a period in the early noughties when the obsession surrounding The Libertines, and Pete Doherty in particular, flooded the UK like a burst sewer pipe. Doherty’s post-Libs band Babyshambles piggybacked their way into becoming many loyal Libertines fans’ second love – for the faithful, his charmingly literate lyricism and off-kilter slur quickly made him a welcome addition to the national collection of Great British Eccentrics.

Then, somewhere along the line, it all seemed to slowly go wrong. People hung up their military jackets, stacked away their trilbies and sheepishly hid their ‘gin in teacups’ tattoos. Gradually you stopped hearing people in north London pubs arguing about whether Doherty was a burbling drug addict or a poetic genius – or, invariably, both. News of the man himself came in snapshots and half-hearted rumours: he’d shacked up with Macaulay Culkin in Paris; he’d appeared in a French arthouse film; he’d spent some time in a holiday resort-cum-rehab facility in Thailand; he’d opened a shop in Camden where he sold his own poetry in bottles and fag butts smoked by some of his mates. (All of the above were true.)

Now Babyshambles are back with the release of their third album, ‘Sequel to the Prequel’. Spiking Clash-inspired punk with ska (on ‘Doctor No’), swing (the title track), classic rock and rockabilly, the album is a showcase first and foremost for Doherty’s eternal romanticism and strangled vocals. There are whispered references to his chequered history – in ‘Fall from Grace’ he sings, ‘Can we go some place where they don’t know my face?’ – but any traces of regret are drowned out by optimistic melodies. As its unapologetic title suggests, ‘Sequel to the Prequel’ is less about the past and more about the present: out with the blood-splattered old and in with a new, brighter era.

For those that were never into Babyshambles in the first place, there’s little on this wobbly album that might rouse new interest. (Doherty’s stab at something different, the upbeat ‘Nothing Comes to Nothing’, is the most lacklustre track of the collection.) Die-hard Dohertyites, though, will be pleased to hear that not a lot has changed: Babyshambles remain as tumultuous, chaotic and fitfully brilliant as ever. For the uncynical, ‘Sequel to the Prequel’ is the shambolically beautiful album that Pete always had the promise to make.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

Watch Babyshambles's 'Nothing Comes to Nothing' video

Listen to Babyshambles on Spotify

Read more music features

Time Out readers' top songs of 2015

We love discovering new music that hits that special spot, so we asked some #takeovertimeout contributors: what’s your top song of 2015 so far?

Arcade Fire on teashops, London and ‘The Reflektor Tapes’

Time Out reader Joe Presley discovers five things you didn’t know about Arcade Fire

Disclosure on Sam Smith’s ring, toilet reading and ‘Caracal’

Guy and Howard Lawrence tell Time Out reader Hannah Ashraf about their new album and becoming more than just a dance band

One to Watch: Wet

Time Out reader Sarah Taylor explains why this Brooklyn trio are ones to watch

Why I love Cadogan Hall

Time Out reader Jaime Tung explores the magic of an intimate concert hall in Chelsea

See all Time Out music features