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

 

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

After the perplexing first single from their upcoming sophomore album of the same name, ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ is the new single and title track. This track 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 and confirms only tonal shifts from their debut album.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – The Last Shadow Puppets – Bad Habbits

 

‘Bad Habbits’ is the eagerly awaited new track of Alex Turner’s and Miles Kane’s eagerly awaited sophomore album, following on from their 2008 debut The Age of the Understatement. For this track they of course worked with producer James Ford, but they also hired the very talented Owen Pallett for the string arrangements. 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 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. Much better is surely to come lyrically and vocally rather than this grand, expensive posturing.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

FOALS – What Went Down Review

In a certain light Foals are quite similar to fellow British group Everything Everything in that both have produced a string of good quality or decent albums without really setting the world alight or producing material that pushes any personal or general musical boundaries. For Everything Everything it was just a case of channelling their different influences into a slicker and smoother delivery. For Foals it has been about creating something more engaging and dynamic to showcase their qualities as a group. The hiring of James Ford as producer was something of a gamble. The Arctic Monkeys and Mumford producer could give them something more direct or could produce something with little identity or character as has been the case with Mumford in particular. He can only work with what’s he has been given though so it is up to Foals to rise to that task.

The heavy-weight instrumentation of the title track confirms a more direct route with roaring distortion and unrelenting rhythms carried by a heavy bass-line and a primed back beat. Yannis’ vocals adapt to the shift well and still maintain their melodic quality with the added aggression involved. Generally it is a dynamic and interesting take on the heaver sound that everyone has been trying out in recent times. This track builds up to those peak moments of volume in the chorus and in maintaining complimentary harmonies and melodies they give the song a more intelligent feel as oppose to the mindless thrashing of Royal Blood. ‘Mountain at my gates’ is a little less intense then the title track with a flashing rhythm section and a smooth, low lying bass line from which lead guitar elements and Yannis’ vocals can extend from. The jangling rhythm section riffs give the song it’s melodic direction in a steady fashion before the song ends in a peak of sound with hammering bass drums and spiralling lead guitar elements into a mass of noise and rapidity to conclude with. A song that isn’t as sure as itself as the title track, but one that just about keeps your attention.

‘A Knife in The Ocean’ is a much longer effort at over six minutes long and is a more considered and drawn out song with lingering bass lines, echoed percussion and washed out guitars from which Yannis’ vocals soar above. This expansive production is reeled in and out to reveal an isolated vocal and bass section before it hit it’s peak of atmospheric power with the escalating instrumentation increasing in volume and leading the vocals to a more powerful end too. This track may be a slow burner, but it’s build up and washed out power is very prominent despite not being direct. A very solid track indeed. ‘London Thunder’ similarly captures that atmospheric quality with the nudging organs whirring beyond Yannis’ isolated vocal and a crisp, loud riff to heighten the senses as the track’s background noise begins to dictate the track with a bass line and beat being produced in response. The percussion that dictates the drive of ‘Albatross’ is the bass for a track that brilliantly maintains itself on edge as the track builds volume and pace. Tracks like ‘Night Swimmers’ and ‘Lonely Hunter’ do feel a little too familiar and almost seem like discarded tracks folded into the album and with ‘Snake Oil’ they left behind the musical sensibility of the title track and basically turned into Royal Blood. In many places this album has great atmospheric quality and plays off the spaces created beautifully and they were also able to harness a great deal of power into something solid and dynamic. At other times they forgot how to do just that and the album fillers only stood out like a sore thumb next to those more developed tracks and that ultimately sees them stopping short of a great album.

FOALS – What Went Down = 8/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Foals – What Went Down

“I wanted to tap into my inner madman” is what Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis claimed was the driving force behind their fiery new single ‘What Went Down’ which is also the title track of their upcoming album which we can expect on August 28th. They’ve enrolled James Ford for production of the album who’s previously worked with Arctic Monkeys and Mumford so suggests they might be trying to travel down a more direct, mainstream route. The heavy-weight instrumentation of the title track confirms that might just be their aims with roaring distortion and unrelenting rhythms carried by a heavy bass-line and a primed back beat. Yannis’ vocals adapt to the shift well and still maintain their melodic quality with the added aggression involved. Generally it is a dynamic and interesting take on the heaver sound that everyone is trying out in recent times with this track building up to those peak moments of volume in the chorus and maintaining complimentary harmonies and melodies that give the song a more intelligent feel as oppose to the mindless thrashing of Royal Blood. Caution must be heeded however, if they go on to make an album of similar songs then it will not only devalue this track but their album and will be detrimental if they want to go on to add a great album in a long ling of consistently good albums. Having said that, they’ve applied themselves well here.

Owen Riddle @oriddle1995