It is easy to associate the sounds of Peter Doherty to the anarchic, chaotic and albeit mesmerising unit that is The Libertines. However, his second solo outing Hamburg Demonstrations couldn’t be any further from it. Released December 2nd, Doherty’s latest project encompasses a classy amalgamation of instruments; arguably his most diverse yet.

Such a difference in musical direction is suggested to us through the album’s opening track, ‘Kolly Kibber’. The album opener mixes Doherty’s iconic guitar style with obvious uses of piano, isolating his effortless vocals. ‘Down for The Outing’ has a similar effect whilst also hinting at a much darker lyricism.

“[Doherty suggests] that music is a poignant tool of counter terrorism and the ultimate form of peace”

A number of tracks on ‘Hamburg Demonstrations’ are recognisable to devoted fans of the singer, having already been released in the form of demos many years ago. However, what is most interesting is the way the songs have been reproduced, now seemingly more rounded and dramatic. The most obvious example of this is ‘Birdcage’ which first appeared four years ago.

One of the most poignant songs on the album is ‘Hell to Pay at the Gates of Heaven’, a relevant message against world terrorism. Written in the aftermath of last November’s horrific terror attacks in Paris, Doherty’s voice is one of both defiance and uprising. Doherty compares an AK47 and J45 (Gibson guitar) together, suggesting that music is a poignant tool of counter terrorism and the ultimate form of peace. It is a fitting anthem of solidarity, arguably one of Doherty’s most astute songs.

Also relevant is ‘Flags from the Old Regime’, a remake of 2014’s ‘Flags of the Old Regime’ written in tribute to Amy Winehouse, a close friend of Doherty’s. Much like the previous track, it is an incredible example of the frontman’s famous skill for lyricism, with the reworked additions from the original adding a much more sombre, softer sound to what is already a spiritual song.

Following arguably the biggest Libertines tour yet, of arenas across the country as well as South America, Doherty has spent much of 2016 travelling and touring his solo music alongside the Puta Madres. The band is a true congregation of cultures with each member representing a different nationality, almost metaphorical of the diversity of the new sound Doherty has devised.

“It wouldn’t seem out of place if it were played along the banks of the Parisian Seine nor as a soundtrack to escapism in the dreary outskirts of modern day suburbia”

Released in 2004, ‘Music When the Lights Go Out’ is debatably one of the most well known Libertines songs. 12 years later, ‘Oily Boker’ comes as an accurate sequel, its introduction and verse sounding almost identical to the latter. Differentially, the chorus introduces a snappy, dramatic clash of chords which would no doubt echo across theatres around the country in the live setting.

Recently released as a single, ‘I Don’t Love Anyone But You’re Not Just Anyone’ features in two forms on the album, both incredibly apt and suited. The first version is slow and melancholic; it wouldn’t seem out of place if it were played along the banks of the Parisian Seine nor as a soundtrack to escapism in the dreary outskirts of modern day suburbia. The second version is far more stereotypical of what you’d expect on a Peter Doherty album, dominated by acoustic melody.

Hamburg Demonstrations is arguably one of Doherty’s greatest masterpieces, its variation in both instrument and sound is a tool to emphasise the singers’ legendary status. However, what is most powerful is the message of solidarity, peace and togetherness which comes across throughout; in times of social discord and uncertainty Doherty’s voice and music as a whole is far more powerful than all else.

Charlie Barnes

Charlie is listening to ‘Like A Lady’ by Crosa Rosa

Image courtesy of Peter Doherty via Facebook.

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