Peter Doherty and Frédéric Lo: The Fantasy Life of Poetry & Crime review – weak and hackneyed | Pop and rock


For 20 years we’ve been told that Peter Doherty is a poet, yet all we’ve been gifted is one incomprehensible collection of blood-spattered diaries (The Books of Albion) and a handful of memorable couplets. So a lockdown collaboration where the Libertines frontman writes the words and French composer Frédéric Lo handles the music seems a timely idea. However, as our belletrist declaims on lead single The Epidemiologist, “the best-laid plans can oft go to fuckery”.

Doherty’s weak, watery quiver of a voice is over-exposed on Lo’s parodic pop fantasias, which veer from syrupy and insincere fluff to low-stakes Smiths tributes. On The Ballad of… they find a witty tension between soft shoe music and steel-toecap subject matter, and Far from the Madding Crowd is an agreeable lament, but it all feels very inconsequential and hackneyed. Sometimes we’re in France, sometimes Margate, but wherever this wide-eyed chansonnier roams, his say-what-you-see lyrics retreat into lists of unexplored references (“Jean Seberg, Daniel Darc / Panic in the streets and panic in Needle Park”) interspersed with complaints about the burdens of songwriting. An album that promises a romantic picnic on the banks of the Seine but can only manage a belch in the middle of a ploughman’s.

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