Album Review: The Last Shadow Puppets ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’
It’s been eight long years since we’ve heard from The Last Shadow Puppets, the passion project of Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner and former Rascals frontman Miles Kane. During the hiatus, Turner has released two extremely well-received albums with his monkeys and one of the best movie soundtracks in the last decade. Meanwhile, Kane got a haircut. It’s a big risk leaving such long breaks between albums, and unfortunately, while Everything You’ve Come To Expect has some Oscar-worthy moments, in the end you’re left with mostly Razzies.
The announcement of the end of the Arctic Monkeys era and the boys’ plan to take a break between albums sparked a mini uproar within the AM community. If you squeaked at your keyboard upon learning this news, then you’re in luck – Everything You’ve Come To Expect could very easily be a collection of Arctic Monkeys B-sides. Kane’s input is pretty much superfluous as he’s either mimicking Turner’s signature drawl or allowing him to hog the mic. The only Kane-like track is lead single Bad Habits, which also happens to be the most irritating of the 11 tracks on the album. The opening Jet-like bass groove is followed by three minutes’ worth of Kane pretentiously shouting random words and an odd string arrangement that makes the song sound like it was lifted from a Michael Bay spaghetti western.
The Turner-helmed tunes fare much better, kicking off with second single Aviation. With its swelling strings and climactic trumpet fanfare, the song sounds like a potential candidate to become the next James Bond theme song (Something that Turner has expressed interest in before), and that’s not a bad thing. Aviation‘s instrumentation tells the story more effectively than the lyrics – Owen Pallett’s lavish string and horn arrangements completely drown out anything that Turner or Kane have to say.
The two tracks that toned down the Pallett treatment come straight from of the Alex Turner recycle bin. Closing track The Dream Synopsis lives up to its name with floaty, understated strings and the oh-so-dreamy drawl that Turner has perfected over the last few years. It’s an enjoyable track, but so similar to the 2010 Submarine soundtrack that it will just leave you longing for a full-length Submarine album rather than a five-track EP.
Exchange the Submarine soundtrack with Arctic Monkeys, and mid-track surprise Sweet Dreams, TN is pretty much the same story. Once again, that’s not a bad thing but the stuttered beat, lightly-dotted strings, and Turner’s emotional crescendoing vocals are so reminiscent of No. 1 Party Anthem that it’s hard to not mourn what could have been. Also, let it be noted that “You’re the first day of spring with a septum piercing” is probably the most cringe-inducing lyric that our little Lothario has ever uttered (and he once told you he wanted to be your coffee pot.)
Between the stand-out tracks are pleasant, yet forgettable filler songs. The title track takes a leaf out of Kevin Parker’s playbook with an injection of hazy guitars and weightless vocals. The best of the filler tracks (Dracula Teeth, Miracle Aligner) provide a pleasant vessel for Pallett’s stunning instrumentation and Turner’s wry lyrics. The worst (Pattern, She Does The Woods) are little more than a lot of noise and an attempt to sneak the world cagoule (a lightweight, hooded, thigh-length waterproof jacket) into the pop culture psyche.
As it turns out, in their impassioned attempt to nail the silver screen aesthetic, Turner and Kane have unintentionally created the aural equivalent of cinema popcorn – it’s light, airy, and enjoyable while it’s happening, but once that bucket is down to its kernels, you realise that you’re hungrier than you were before you started eating.