When The Last Shadow Puppets was born in 2008, a beautiful partnership was born. Their simple yet effective lyrics and melodies echoed that of early Bowie and Scott Walker, but while it may have served as a reliable reflection of where the pair stood then, it didn’t suffice in the following years, particularly not when compared to the offerings of Miles Kane and Alex Turner in recent years. Everything You’ve Come To Expect solves this problem; it is the lovechild of Arctic Monkeys’ sexily dangerous AM and Miles’ raucously infectious Don’t Forget Who You Are. The result? An album brimming with swagger and laced with dark charm.
An eerie string section paves the way for opening track Aviation, before the urgency of the guitar riff welcomes in Kane’s vocals. The boys have done well in dividing the singing duties between themselves; Kane’s vocals stir up images of a twinkle in his eyes as he sings them, his voice providing the allure that lyrics such as “It’s your decision honey, my planet or yours?” conjure up. The track melts perfectly into album highlight Miracle Aligner. This time it’s Turner who takes the reigns, ably backed up by Kane’s deep tones, with his soft drones perfectly complimenting the California-tinged, dream-like melody. Dracula Teeth sees the sultriness of the album reach its zenith, with scenes painted using only the simple lyrics describing the depths a lucky girl has managed to dig her claws into one of the two men. It is songs like this that show just how far the band have come; subtly bragging about how the pair are now sex symbols and live in the land of beautiful that is LA with their beautiful girlfriends would not have served as inspiration back in 2008, when they rocked their shaggy ‘dos and scruffy jeans. The confidence this incites oozes from the album, particularly on track Used To Be My Girl.
The good old tunes of heartbreak still remain on this second album, but they are dressed up in the new sound Kane and Turner have created. Used To Be My Girl uses a dangerous melody of heavy drums and sharp strings to tell the tale of a girl who shook his world. It also sees the pair return to the old habit of sharing singing duties with Turner’s soft lilt and Kane’s spitting of the chorus only serving to add to the threat the song produces. The real return to their early work is marked by Sweet Dreams, TN. The simplicity of the repetitive drumming and the crying of the lyrics in Turner’s distinctive Sheffield-come-American accent, only adds to the overriding emotion of heartbreak. Title track, Everything You’ve Come To Expect is pure perfection, with it’s swirling carousel tune making you feel like you are in a twisted fair ground. Like the rest, the song dances with symbolism, yet references are made to home with “Ghost Riders and The Rat and Parrot” showing they still know where they belong.
While the tunes may have changed, the underlying strength of the songwriting of Miles and Alex has not. Simple it may be, but it perfectly sets the tone for each song, with imagery of outer space and dark nights being just some of the backgrounds the pair use for their album of love and the heartbreak it brings. Here’s hoping next time they don’t leave us waiting so long, although, if it’s anything like this album, it’s hard to think that anyone would mind.
For fans of: Arctic Monkeys, Miles Kane, The Libertines
Words by Clara Duffy
‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ by The Last Shadow Puppets is out now on Domino Recordings.