As the legendary WWE wrestler that Miles Kane impersonates on the promotional videos for ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’ would say, ‘Wooooo’; The Last Shadow Puppets are back in business. But, is Kane’s project with Arctic Monkey’s frontman Alex Turner as vital and refreshing as it was in 2008 or has the magic and prowess inevitably decreased with time like that of Mr Ric Flair? (Yes, a tenuous link between sports entertainment and music has just been crafted right in front of your very eyes).
Well, eight years is a long time in music, a hell of a lot has happened since the release of ‘The Age of the Understatement’. Admittedly, most of the progress concerns Alex Turner as his day job in Arctic Monkeys has proved to be much more than the flash in the pan some thought it would be a decade ago. Upon the release of ‘The Age of the Understatement’ Turner’s band were only two spikey, say-it how-is albums in. The Scott Walker influenced side project with Kane was an undoubted curveball at the time and it also seemed to ignite a confidence in Turner and his bandmates; it gave them the courage to their horizons on the following three albums.
That brings us up to date, the here and now of 2016. Collectively, we’re used to hearing a different Alex Turner from the pre – ‘Humbug’ Monkeys era which brings even more expectations as to how a follow up would sound for The Last Shadow Puppets. So, is this long-awaited return true to its name or is ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’ a thinly veiled decoy of a title?
Going off the strings laden opener ‘Aviation’, you’d think the album follows on from where its predecessor left off. It’s unsurprising to hear that it was the penning of ‘Aviation’ by Kane that truly prompted the duo’s return as it’s exactly what you would expect a 2016 version of The Last Shadow Puppets to sound like. From there though, the approach slightly veers away what you’d expect as the range of influences widens.
Latest single ‘Miracle Aligner’ would easily find itself at home on Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Suck It and See’ with its dreamy sway. The pair have been quoted in NME as saying that writing for the album was influenced by Isaac Hayes in many parts. There is a certain smoothness that suits the Yorkshire croon that Turner has developed over the years, a smoothness that’s at the forefront of ‘Dracula Teeth’ as Zach Dawes’ bassline and Owen Pallett’s orchestration do much of the work musically.
Elsewhere, ‘The Element of Surprise’ harnesses their Bowie influences and provides an album highlight as Turner describes the frustration of being led along by a potential lover, a position he’s presumably not too familiar with; ‘I thought they were kisses but apparently not. Do you end all your messages with an X marks the spot? Just let me know when you want your socks knocking off’.
In fact, the majority of the album’s highlights are Turner-led. Barring ‘Aviation’, Kane’s tracks fall a little short of his counterpart’s touches of class. ‘Bad Habits’ was a bold choice as a comeback single and still sticks out a little in the context of the record whilst the creepy and leering ‘Used to Be My Girl’ does the ex-Rascal no favours after that Spin interview went ary with lyrics like ‘I’m a phony, I’m a fake, a fraud, a snake. Gimme all your love so I can fill you up with hate’.
The album closes on ‘The Dream Synopsis’ as Turner reminds us that he hasn’t forgotten where came from with references to his hometown of Sheffield and fooling around with a barmaid near ‘a leaning tower of pint pots’. It is strikingly Arctic Monkeys-esque, carrying the vibe of ‘No.1 Party Anthem’ in particular. There-in lies the only real complaint about ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’, especially on Alex Turner’s part; it doesn’t feel necessary for any other reason than the duo reuniting. The Monkeys frontman could have written much of this as the follow up to ‘AM’ and not many would have blinked an eye. But, it’s here now so why not enjoy it for what it is.
‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’ is out now via Domino Recordings.
This Last Shadow Puppets article was written by Simon Carline, a GIGsoup contributor.