Review Summary: Peter Doherty's debut album as a solo artist, while not outstanding, has several stand out songs that may keep the listeners attention and distract them from the more boring tunes.
Imagine the rolling hills of northern England, with many herds of roaming sheep and ancient, dilapidated stone walls. It is bright and sunny at the moment, but ominous dark clouds lurk on the horizon. Imagine that you are having a picnic, possibly with your girlfriend/boyfriend, and are eating some traditional english food with some tea. You have hired a musician to play for you that day. By some coincidence, this musician is Peter Doherty. The songs he plays are similar to the landscape around you: interesting a beautiful for a little while.... until you discover that everything is generally the same for miles around and that everything is basically some old rocks with grass on top.
This description of what I imagine sums up Grace/Wastelands as a whole may sound rather strange to you, the interested reader, but give this album a listen and you will find what I have stated to be quite true. This album has some very interesting, catchy songs that immediately draw the listener in, but also has it's fair share of stinkers that are easily skippable.
Peter Doherty, currently at the maturing age of 30, has had quite a musical experience in his past. First he sang for the indie band The Libertines, and gained a fair amount of success in his home country of England, then, after being fired from the band for his frequent (and often publicized) drug use, Peter invented Babyshambles, another fairly successful indie band. This has left him with a distinct vocal style of his own, which can be compared to such great voices as Morrissey of The Smiths and Michael Stripe of REM. Nonetheless, Peter's vocals are pleasant to listen to, and although he does not have a broad vocal range, he can easily hold a tune. The opening song, 'Arcady', as well as the extremely catchy 'I Am The Rain' both showcase his vocals very well, and are possibly the two best songs on the album, to boot.
For any of those expecting to hear some more punkish tunes such as 'Killamangiro' or 'Up The Bracket, prepare to be disappointed. The dominating instrument here is certainly the acoustic guitar. This is a good and bad thing. Some of the songs work very well with the pleasant, laid back guitar, while others seem very boring and repetitive. 'Sheepskin Tearaway' is an example of this, with a very slow, boring acoustic passage. Some interesting female vocals and harmonica barely save this song from monotony. As for the rest of the instruments, they are nothing special with some fairly simple bass lines and some casual drumming. 'The Last of The English Roses' and 'Palace Of Bone' both have interesting drumming contributions, with some neat percussion as well as some drumming that would sound more in place in a techno song.
With its twelve tracks and fairly short run time, this is by no means a long record. All of the songs run under five minutes, with the shortest (and most boring) song, 'Lady, Don't Fall Backwards' running under 2:30. This is probably a good thing, as more songs would mean more filler. Despite this relatively short run time, the album seems laboriously long and drawn out, and eventually becomes a chore to listen to. The songs sounding very similar due to the clean guitar and style of singing also seem to draw out and contort the album, until it is quite unexciting and uninteresting, much like the English countryside.
In conclusion, this is a decent album with several standout tracks as well as a fair share of filler. Peter Doherty's pleasant vocals help give the album an overall laid back feel. A greater variety of songs and instrumentation would make this album a success. I would recommend this to anybody who want some mellow, quiet music that could serve well as background music for a dinner party, or possibly, a picnic.
-Laid back and mellow
-Consistent in instrumentation and vocal content
-Several uninterresting, repetitive tracks
-Lacks variety in songs
-Does not live up to previous Babyshambles or Libertines releases.
-I Am The Rain
-Palace of Bone
Hehehe just noticed album artwork is rather dirty.