Album Review... Babyshambles – Sequel to the Prequel

Babyshambles are back and they bring an intelligent new album with them after six years of abstinence. The London based band around lead singer Pete Doherty released “Sequel to the Prequel” on September 2nd and herald autumn with a colourful mix of all kinds of genres. After the leaving of drummer Danny Goffey they could win Stereophonics’ ex-member Jamie Morrison who contributed some amazing drum beats. Recorded in Paris and mixed in London there is a smoky, exciting love affair of a French café and an English pub which is audible in every track. By the way, the beautiful psychedelic-looking cover is by artist Damien Hirst.

Their latest record opens directly with the most punky and hectic track. Fittingly called “Fireman” you get one minute forty full of burning guitars and a red-hot chorus resulting in a burnout of fading rock riffs. Functioning as an impressive vital sign it seems to say forthrightly ‘We’re still alive and we’re ready to rock!’, but is at no point overburdened or surcharged.

This is followed by the first single “Nothing Comes to Nothing” which admittedly is a nice indie rock track with quite a catchy chorus but it is compared to its company on the record little more than a typically composed fill-in song. Further listening pays off! But that album also can grunge. “Farmer’s Daughter” proves this in its twenty second-intro slowly transforming into an acoustic rock stanza. The refrain lets Doherty’s voice sparkle in long anthem-like harmonies underlined by additional choral singing.

The title song “Sequel to the Prequel” opens with a rustling melody tootling from an old radio which kind of describes the whole piece perfectly. Here we get an amazing indie/rockabilly tune containing everything necessary to be labelled as neo-vintage. There is a fifties-like piano theme combined with country bridges and modern lyrics. This is cross-over concerning both genre and style in its perfection.

Another great track “Dr. No” begins with a catchy use of bass which apparently cannot decide between reggae and blues. The result is an amazing ska tune whose strange mix absolutely makes the quality. Now and then you notice a harmonica playing one time the well-known tune from Once Upon a Time in the West and creating another time the creepy atmosphere of a dark cabaret song. All this is completed by Pete Doherty’s versatile singing which adapts perfectly to the swinging, head banging mood of this track.

“Sequel to the Prequel” closes with its definite highlight which brings the Babyshamble’s comeback to a worthy end. “Minefield” begins rather quiet with an exciting use of bass. It almost comes along like a Bond song with a lot of tension in the stanzas only to explode in a great mix of clever guitar use and great vocals. The bridge resembles in its intensity both vocally and tonally an interlude by late musician Jeff Buckley whereas some passages camouflages as blues or alternative tracks. An absolute must hear!

The Babyshamble’s third work “Sequel to the Prequel” convinces with meaningful lyrics and a fusion of different styles all combined to one complementing oeuvre. It would have been easy to arrange everything just around Doherty and sell him as the figurehead of the comeback, but instead his voice is ‘just’ another equal instrument with an incredibly high level of quality and manifoldness. This record offers something for every taste may it be indie, rock or blues.

Babyshambles – Sequel to the Prequel
Out of 10: 8/10

Written by - Sarah Beicht

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