You wait forty years for a bus and two turn up at once. When Peter Perrett returned from oblivion in 2017 with How the West Was Won, just as surprising as the album’s actual arrival was quite how good it actually sounded. Following the disintegration of the Only Ones in 1980, Perrett withdrew into the addictions that would subsume his life for decades. There was a rickety comeback tour, a side project (the Ones), but virtually nothing of substance during this time. So, two years later, Humanworld finds Perrett continuing the previous record’s upward trajectory.
Humanworld is Stones-esque power pop with few surprises, but that doesn’t stop it being skilfully executed and even remarkably cliché free. Much of the credit here should go to his band – wisely, Perrett has remained with the same group who delivered such goods last time. ‘Heavenly Day’, a clear highlight of the record, is redemptive without veering into schmaltz, as he reflects: “We were the only people alive that moment/ If only I could freeze that moment”.
As with any truly great rock’n’roll vocalist, simple lines take on uncanny power and offer multitudes of meaning – his vocal, now weathered into a ragged Dylan snarl, contains a surprising amount of power for a man who once claimed that his lungs were so wracked by crack that he couldn’t finish a song without an oxygen mask. Perrett represented a Johnny Thunders cult of elegantly wasted oblivion that’s rightly gone out of fashion by this point, and here those years are referenced at points with no small amount of pathos – “You made it here against the odds/ The power is in you”. It’s a dated vision of rock’n’roll, sure, but Perrett wears it well.