LONDON (Reuters) - Rocker Pete Doherty has long been a staple of the tabloids, making headlines for his on-off relationship with supermodel Kate Moss, frequent brushes with the law, battle against drugs and stint behind bars.
The 30-year-old is looking to put that behind him with his debut solo album “Peter Doherty: Grace/Wastelands,” which puts the “r” back into Peter and, in many critics’ minds, establishes him as an act to be taken seriously.
Whether it is enough to appeal beyond Doherty’s small but fiercely loyal band of fans is less certain, they add.
“The result isn’t perfect, but it’s the first album Doherty has been involved with since the Libertines’ debut not to require any special pleading,” writes Alexis Petridis in the Guardian broadsheet in a four-star review.
“There might still be more to Pete Doherty than an interminable, unutterably depressing comedy of errors.”
Doherty’s shambolic public image has been partly tempered by a reputation for strong lyrics, earning him the unofficial title of “people’s poet,” as well as his status as a fashion icon for his trilby hats, skinny trousers and narrow ties.
According to his artist profile on record label EMI’s website, the release of Doherty’s solo debut was “one of the most frightening things he has ever done.”
“They kept telling me in rehab that I had self-esteem problems, so I went along with it, but it didn’t really register,” Doherty said.
“But now, I can really see that, because I don’t really believe people when they tell me that they love the record or they enjoy listening to the songs. Maybe I’m just warped, you know?”
The album is a mix of old tunes and new, features Blur guitarist Graham Coxon and was produced by Stephen Street, who has worked with The Smiths, one of Doherty’s major influences, and Babyshambles, which Doherty fronts.
Reviews have been generally warm, with several four-star scores for Grace/Wastelands. Several critics wonder, though, if the album is too little, too late.
“Whether it’s enough to arrest his downward slide is an interesting question: there’s a distinct possibility that it’s now too late,” Petridis wrote.
And The Independent’s Andy Gill added that Doherty’s long-term future may lie with his old band, The Libertines.
“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.”
Speculation has been rife that The Libertines will reform, reuniting Doherty with Carl Barat years after they fell out in a blaze of drugs and arguments.
Asked by the Sun tabloid whether the band would get back together, Doherty replied: “Yeah, it looks like it now. Unavoidable to be honest.” Barat, though, has been more cool to the proposition in recent interviews.
Editing by Paul Casciato