MacGowan’s name on the sleeve may mislead some fans, as this is not the long-awaited new project The Pogues’ frontman is rumoured to be unveiling at some point this year. Instead, it’s an offering by his other old band, on which Shane weighs in for just three songs, with less than satisfying results.
Guitarist and latterly lead singer Paul McGuiness has regrouped with different personnel from 2000’s Holloway Boulevard and, while there are still strong Celtic motifs throughout, the dominant sound owes more to another group of Irish legends, Thin Lizzy. Songs such as the title track, Bastards and Loneliness Of A Long Distance Drinker (coincidentally the three featuring Shane’s now near incomprehensible vocals) are inspired by MacGuiness’s own battles with drink and drugs and a short spell in prison; full of rebel ferocity but ultimately suffering from a lack of focus.
The banjo-led country of Back In Your Heart owes a debt to Van Morrison and provides welcome respite from the ramshackle noise of most of the album, which may well be better suited to a live setting. What MacGowan himself can deliver, supposedly in tandem with erstwhile Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan, remains to be seen.