It may be a cliché, but thirty-something libertine Pete Doherty, like a fine wine, just gets better with age. So Babyshambles’ third studio album, Sequel to the Prequel, prudently produced and mixed by the returning Stephen Street and arriving six years on the heels of the strident Shotter’s Nation, finds Doherty and company in less of a shambles and more of a solid groove. Maybe the years between albums spent on his solo projects, modeling, and acting proved therapeutic for Doherty, ’cause he’s returned with one hell of a great record. Then, maybe Drew McConnell and Mick Whitnall pitching in on songwriting helped, too. Opening track “Fireman” draws on elements of The Fall; elsewhere, the sublime “Fall From Grace” lifts licks from Dylan’s “I Want You” as Doherty liltingly croons: “Can we go someplace where they know my face/Gather round now, bear witness to my fall from grace.” This variegated disc also features the Libertines-worthy rocker “Maybelline,” and the old-school ’70s dancehall funk of “Dr. No.” Of particular note is lead guitarist Whitnall’s gorgeous playing on the zoologically trippy “Penguins.” All this and Damien Hirst artwork on the cover? The verdict: genius.


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