The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come To Expect

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In one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of the year, Alex Turner and Miles Kane join forces for their second studio album Everything You’ve Come To Expect. The album is eight years beyond their debut in which time both men have reached new heights. It  is important to separate the fact from fiction here. Those eight years have seen Turner particularly gain a fanatic following not far removed from that of Bieber or Harry Styles. Unlike those two there’s more tangible talent on show, but the hype shouldn’t give them the special treatment that the NME might afford them. Bringing in the talented Owen Pallet for string arrangements is already a positive step that will undoubtedly go unnoticed whilst James Ford adds a sense of stability in production so let’s see what the duo have brought us in 2016.

Bad Habbits’ was that eagerly awaited track. The song certainly has a urgency about it, dictated by the tentative and rapid bass line and this along with the jangling acoustic riffs feed into urgent anti-harmonies of the string sections. It’s almost some pseudo- Indie Western soundtrack. Musically, there isn’t much variation from 2008 in this instance apart from the reshuffling of roles between cinematic instrumentals of relentless bass-line, string sections and well placed guitar parts. Having said that, it is delivered in a more imaginative way here. What is less imaginative is the lyrical content or lack of it. There is little flow to them and the only consistency is their repetitive nature which is a shock for both artists. There are also sections of the track with huge clutter and then others with half or even quarter lines which is peculiar. This track is a little bemusing given the calibre of those involved and Pallett’s involvement provides the only consistency and creativity to the track. ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ is relatively simple with 60s organs and sweeping strings. They feature several varying vocal styles from light falsettos, distorted and deeper tones. There is nothing much more to the track apart from typically verging on predictable masculine lyrics, but at least it functions properly in ways ‘Bad Habits’ didn’t. All in all this is solid whilst being underwhelming  with fleeting moments of enjoyment. Aviation’ is the third single and it is indeed an improvement on the first two singles as it pursues its 1960’s imagery and sound with resonant, rotating riffs and smooth string sections. This song hasn’t moved in a direction of any significance for the duo, but the song builds to tangible progressions and is well delivered and arranged. It is the first track from the album that actually justifies the grand arrangements that have been employed.

‘Miracle Aligner’ maintains the 60’s club ballad formula the duo have employed so often in the album so far. The prominent bass lines, sweeping strings and loose are a well worn formula in general, not least on this album. Having said that, the music works in harmony with Alex Turner’s vocals and they really do the sound justice. The question is though, does it need justifying anymore? Tracks like ‘Pattern’ employ the same methodology with a smoother edge via fluidity from the added piano chords and another piece of sublime strings. Miles Kane demonstrates a degree of vocal versatility here too. ‘Used to be my Girl’ is similar in this way only with a more prominent riff ringing through the track instead of the dramatic string sections. ‘Dracula Teeth’ employs both variations of the style into one song and again it works well along with their vocal harmonies. The negative with this is that these songs occupy the vast majority of the album in various iterations though it does flow decently. More often than not however, they give off an air of confidence and entitlement with their music that is unjustified by the end result. Not often are some of the tracks simply poor in standard, but the rest are wholly predictable and suggests that they have nothing to show for the last eight years which is not the case. In many ways this album is indeed everything you’ve come to expect which might be their point.

The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come To Expect = 6/10

Owen Riddle

 

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