Review Summary: The Last Shadow Puppets album is proof if proof is needed that these two young vocalists are leaps and bounds ahead of 99% of the rest of the world in terms of imagination and musicianship.
The Last Shadow Puppets are the side project of Alex Turner, the ineffable front man of the Arctic Monkeys, and Miles Kane, the less well known lead singer of The Rascals. Meeting in 2005, when Kane’s old band supported The Arctic Monkeys, the two soon became friends and started writing together sometime in mid 2007. With their imaginations the only limits The Age Of The Understatement
was written and recorded in the space of about six months and was released in February of 2008. As grand a project as either had been previously involved in The Age Of The Understatement
doesn’t disappoint, proving why Kane and in particular Turner have such promising futures.
The first notable aspect on the album is the sound itself. The sound here is colossal, far more complex than the duo’s combined work, and with the London Metropolitan Orchestra contributing to the atmosphere, each and every song here feels and sounds important. Opener and lead single The Age Of The Understatement
gets the album off to a terrific start. With focused musicianship and the determination to succeed the song showcases the aspects of the rest of the album whilst still keeping its own unique identity. Reminiscent of David Bowie’s earlier work, the sound of the late sixties has been revived excellently. Pounding drum beats and tight guitar work often provide a structure to the songs, with the two vocalists given free roam to experiment as much as they like and the orchestra more often than not providing the icing on the metaphorical cake, and adding a grand atmosphere to songs otherwise lacking in this department. To say it works well together would be an understatement in itself, with each and every note meticulously arranged to create a unified album that flows as well as any other I can think of.
Truth be told all of the songs in the album are good and with no real weaknesses the album thunders along magnificently. Calm Like You
and Separate And Ever Deadly
demand even more attention on the singers, with the harmonies between the duo being the main focus point. More vocal interplay can be found on The Chamber
and although the front men work well in tandem one often gets the feeling that most of the emphasis is placed on the distinct voice of Alex Turner. My Mistakes Were Made For You
shows this well, with Turners vocals predominantly in the foreground with Kane utilized as more a backing singer. This said it still manages to be one of the albums highlights, the subtle music making more of an impression than one would think.
Another album highlight Black Plant
starts with an intro that wouldn’t feel amiss in an old James Bond film. The lush string assortment from the orchestra truly makes this song unique on the album. As previously mentioned there isn’t a bad song on the album yet even though individually the songs are all great this record is best listened to fully with no interruptions in order to get the most out of it. Although this record is initially difficult to appreciate, time is needed for the music to fully make its mark as it is difficult to adjust to the unexpected sound presented. One or two listens will not prove fruitful but multiple listens prove to unearth facets of the music that may previously have eluded. Whilst early listens may bore, the sheer brilliance that is the culmination of the music is worth the wait.
This is a surprisingly consistent record from two of Britain’s most promising front men. Ambitious, talented and ruthless in their approach these two men have undoubtedly created an album that stands up to anything their individual bands have done and maybe even surpasses them in terms of scope and purpose. The twelve tracks on offer here are fashioned brilliantly, the tracks flow seamlessly into one another creating the sense of one encompassing movement; and while every track has its own merits, this is one album that is better when listened to in its entirety. Definitely a grower, if not given time it will probably bore, but when given time to flourish, the intricacies will astound even the most grounded listener.
Age Of The Understatement
Calm Like You
My Mistakes Were Made For You
Overall 4.5 Superb