2008, and Britain’s upcoming indie rock icon Alex Turner leads Arctic Monkeys to a fifth Brit Award in a before announcing that he and close chum Miles Kane have been working on a side project. The result was the birth of The Last Shadow Puppets and debut album The Age of The Understatement which was a triumphant orchestral ode to the 60s, made all the better by the youthful exuberance of Turner and Kane. It felt slightly unpolished, yet all the more charming for it.
Jump forward eight years and the pair still share that strong bromance, Alex Turner now being a slick, well oiled musical machine and Miles Kane a highly successful solo artist. Much has changed since their youthful and charming first release and the changes are clear to see on new album Everything You’ve Come To Expect.
It’s an album of two halves, the opening six are all promising. ‘Aviation’ begins with a similar orchestral wail to previous album opener, ‘The Age Of The Understatement’, before erupting into a Jonny Marr-esque guitar riff, it’s about as close as it comes to a typical Puppets tune. Lead single, ‘Bad Habits’ is another lively track, with chilling, jumpy strings that could’ve been plucked from a 1920s horror film. ‘Miracle Aligner’ and ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ are two pleasant mid-paced songs, the latter with some gorgeous strings, only to be short lived. The finest of the lot is ‘The Element Of Surprise’. It’s a textbook Turner tale of love; “There’s a set of rickety stairs, in between my heart and my head, and there ain’t much that ever bothers going up them”, all bathed in glorious string work.
The second half of this album falls far short. ‘Used To Be My Girl’ feels like a song that didn’t make the cut on Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Humbug’, while closing track ‘The Dream Synopsis’ should be renamed ‘No.2 Party Anthem’. It’s almost a carbon copy of the AM tune, only worse.
It’s a disappointing return in all. The Last Shadow Puppets seem to have lost their energy, their youthfulness and unpolished, frenetic fun. It is all very LA era Alex Turner, clean cut and thought through, but lacking it’s original charm. Sometimes things are best left to rest, and perhaps the first Shadow Puppets album should’ve been the last of the Shadow Puppets.