By - Jan 1st, 2006 02:52 pm
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By Paul Snyder


Stateside knowledge of Pete Doherty is little more than �that walking hypodermic needle that got Kate Moss hooked on cocaine.� In England, he�s revered as a romantic, tragic figure: always arrested for possession, always missing gigs, always getting his ass kicked, and always writing great songs along the way.

He was part of The Libertines, though his own demons got him ousted before they�d made their U.S. debut. But while the other three limped to their finish, Doherty formed Babyshambles and released a couple of punchy singles intent on outdoing his old mates and re-instilling faith in his pale, skeletal frame. Down in Albion was intended to be the pièce de résistance.

It�s a piece, all right � 16 scatterbrain tracks that scream �addict!� far more often than �genius!� The lyrics so frequently recycle the themes of fading belief, depression and pleas to be left alone that they caricaturize themselves before the record�s finished. �I can�t tell between death and glory.� Er� right. Clever.

The thing is, with some proper guidance and editing, this could have been a sucker punch. It�s hard to deny the great spark in �The 32nd of December� and �Loyalty Song,� but they�re in such droll company that no fire is ever allowed to catch.

So download those two, plus the single of �Killamangiro� and their sprightly contribution to the Help! benefit album, �From Bollywood to Battersea.� But don�t shell out for this mess; if you do, you already know how Pete�s going to spend the money.  VS

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