MAGNET’s #17 Album Of 2017: Peter Perrett’s “How The West Was Won”

To anyone unfortunate enough to have witnessed the Only Ones’ pitiful reunion a decade ago, the very idea that their waif-like singer Peter Perrett would still be alive in 2017, let alone responsible for producing one of the year’s most life-affirming albums, would have seemed ludicrous. Here was a man who’d drifted out of the music scene, a man whose long-term addictions to heroin and crack had so utterly ravaged his lungs he was barely able to breathe, let alone sing. And yet, 10 years on, he’s back, apparently drug free, in (relatively) good health and making marvelous music on par with his glory days. How The West Was Won is nothing short of a revelation, a ridiculously heartwarming return to form, by turns louche, laconic and impossibly romantic in the most literal sense. Throughout, Perrett comes on like Lou Reed’s long-lost transatlantic cousin—think Loaded or Street Hassle filtered through a grimy South London lens. It’s languidly lyrical, laced with mordant wit and unflinching candor, all the while beautifully complemented by his two sons, who provide a perfect musical foil throughout. (Which is something in itself, seeing as they previously backed incorrigible ex-junkie dilettante Pete Doherty, a man who’s spent most of his career copying Perrett’s worst aspects.) A minor miracle of sorts then, a true gem, one for wide-eyed gutterpunk romantics everywhere, and the best back-from-the-dead trick since Lazarus. —Neil Ferguson