Album: Peter Doherty, Grace/Wastelands (Parlophone)

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The Independent Culture

Grace/Wastelands has the curious status of offering the most convincing account of Pete Doherty's talents, yet at the same time conveying the limited parameters of his artistic reach.

It's when he's at his best that one can most clearly gauge his limitations, and they don't leave him much room to move here. Too many of these songs are slim ideas polished to an almost respectable lustre by arrangements which try to add colour to Doherty's monochrome presence without trampling over his anomie.

Listen to a clip of New Love Grows on Trees

It works reasonably well on "A Little Death around the Eyes", where creepy organ and strings lend the song a touch of Bond-theme glamour; and on "Arcadie", where acoustic guitar and brushed snare astutely capture the singer's blithe spirit. But elsewhere, things fall badly apart, particularly the ghastly jazz pastiche of "Sweet By and By" and "Palace of Bone", a song about "times together winding on that snaky road". But the weakest aspect of the album is its predictability, from the Tony Hancock reference ("Lady, Don't Fall Backwards") to the self-reflective tone of "I Am the Rain". Sooner or later, even Pete's dwindling band of acolytes is going to grow bored with his slim volume of conceits, and the Libertines reunion had better be well in hand when they do.

Pick of the album: 'A Little Death around the Eyes', 'Arcadie', 'Last of the English Roses'

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