The Age of the Understatement
Recalling the likes of Scott Walker and Phil Spector, The Last Shadow Puppets are a side project from chief Arctic Monkey Alex Turner and Miles Kane of lesser-known Wirral locals The Rascals. Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford plays drums as well as reprising the production role he took on last year's Favourite Worst Nightmare.
Inspired by that late 50's / early 60's sound, the band employ lavish strings, rich melodies and a sweeping grandeur that places them well away from the Arctic Monkeys' spikey, contemporary sound. Off to a flying start, the title track sets up the scenario - with Turner and Kane's harmonious vocals galloping along to the accompanyment of furious strings. Lyrically less of a first-person affair than the Monkeys, steering away from the minutiae of teenage life in Sheffield for a more subtle style of big screen story-telling. There's still room for Rock amongst all this orchestration however and many songs recall the early electric era of 7" singles - barely topping 3 minutes on most tracks. Highlights like Standing Next To Me and Only The Truth sum the approach up perfectly, doing away with long intros and getting straight to the full-blown matter at hand.
It's a fun listen, but at the end of the day it's a concept stretched a little too far. The similarity between Turner and Kane's voices does little to add much distinction between tracks and while it's by no means an offensive listen I just find my attention drifting towards the end. Finale The Time Has Come Again brings things back into focus however, with a suitably sweeping climax as the soft acoustic intro is embellished by the twin vocals and a rising orchestral arrangement.
In an age of mega marketing and struggling record sales, Turner has maintained steadfast integrity, shirking the expected mainstream and sticking to his guns. This is an unusual release, but one that is strong, original and superbly produced. A far cry from the Hoxton infested lo-fi 80s revivalist output that a lot of hyped bands seem to be trying for these days.
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