Album Review: Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres (Self-Titled)

The world of ‘art’ can feel worlds away from the lives of folk. Talk of ‘Albion’ and ‘The Arcadian Dream’ maybe don’t resonate so much with the everyman’s experience of this small, grey rock. Certainly, my time on the Holloway Road hasn’t been painted with the same Dickensian charm that filters through Peter Doherty’s assessment of London. And yet, there’s still a just sense of representation somewhere — a nerve that’s touched by all these quaint, wandering anglicisms, turns of phrase, naughty words and unnecessary stress.

Ah yes. Fuck Forever. Good point.

When Hunter S. Thompson died, his ashes were fired out of a cannon some hundred-and-fifty foot up in the air to the sound of Bob Dylan. That’s how he did things. Sixty-seven sounds quite old for somebody so preoccupied with living all the time. Part of me wonders how he didn’t burn out sooner.

It took Bowie dying of cancer for me to get that these people are part of the same ‘folk’, in no way exempt from all the suffering and banality of a drawn out existence. Peter Doherty has retired from London, moved out to the seaside and is doing something new. That’s not a metaphor. Now in his forties, the singer-songwriter is settling into a new part of his life. One day you turn around and you don’t own any skinny jeans anymore, and your back hurts, and you’ve forgotten the chords to Don’t Look Back in Anger. Life isn’t worse. It’s different. But you’re ready for that.

And that’s what this album is. Ten years ago, Babyshambles made sense. By the last Libertines album, maybe they had started to acknowledge that things are moving on, and that that’s okay. The stylish kids in the riot aren’t kids anymore; they’re someone’s dad.

This is still the same Pete Doherty we’re talking about. The Puta Madres aren’t going to be appearing on some Dad Rocks/Top Gear Driving Anthems CD anytime soon. The eponymous album still has its riotous moments, helped along by some percussion, and thematically it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. But there’s an air of content in where it’s at now and where it’s heading.

The maudlin crywank that became ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ regrettably doesn’t belong in 2019, and I suppose the passing of time is something we all have to accept eventually. Ageing gracefully into maturity is perhaps a better outcome than desperately trying to hold on to an era that probably wasn’t that good at the time anyway.

Peter Doherty and the Puta Madres, as the name suggests, marks a clear step towards maturity, a life to transcend the 29 bus route, a life of quiet deliberation, patience, content…

Words by James Reynolds


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