Welcome to Basement Dwelling, where I review new records that should be on your musical radar. What sets Basement Dwelling apart from other music review columns is that these are all albums that are currently residing in my record collection. No promo copy was given, no stream was listened to. Instead, a physical copy of an album was purchased before I listened to it. Don’t think of me as a critic, but as a music obsessive looking to open a dialogue about some of the best tunes that are currently being released.
Let’s head down to the basement and listen to Everything You’ve Come To Expect by The Last Shadow Puppets…
Back in 2008, a charming record was released: The Age of The Understatement, by the duo of Alex Turner and Miles Kane, under the name The Last Shadow Puppets. Turner and Kane were in their early twenties when they released Understatement, and were already critical darlings and, frankly, big stars in the British press.
Miles Kane was a much buzzed about singer-songwriter, and Turner proved that the hype should be believed, with his mega popular band Arctic Monkeys releasing two great records — 2006’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not and 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare. Both were blistering, hungry, indie rock records that capped off the “Garage Rock Revival” sound of the early ’00s. These albums brought AM a lot of attention, not only in their native England where What Ever People Say… broke records for being one of the fastest selling début records by a British band, but also stateside, where the band garnered much attention and popularity, especially within the last couple of years.
What made The Age Of The Understatement such a welcome and refreshing record when it came out in ’08 — and kept it that way for the eight years since its release — was that it combined the best stylings of Turner and Kane’s work, and served them out in a mature fashion. The record was less about showcasing the duo as alt rockers, and more about showing them as troubadours like that record’s obvious influence, and reference point, Scott Walker.
It’s a joyous 35 minutes of ballads, great lyrics, orchestral swells, and fantastic songs. It’s why I was so excited when I heard that Turner and Kane were getting the band back together, especially by the record’s cheeky title, Everything You’ve Come To Expect.
“More of this?” was something I thought to myself while revisiting Understatement. Yes, please.
Does this new record live up to its title? Not quite. Stylistically, what we’re being presented with here is a record much more akin to Arctic Monkeys’ last couple of records, Suck It and See and — especially — their U.S. breakthrough album A.M. While those are both records I enjoy, it’s a little disappointing to find that’s the style in which these songs were written. It makes the record feel more like an Arctic Monkeys record than a Last Shadow Puppets album. This isn’t a bad thing, of course, but this sense of an identity crisis could come as a bit off-putting to fans of their previous record.
Making up for the loss of identity, though, are some killer tunes, which this record is packed with. I felt that by now, Alex Turner’s slowed down, sexier, more American-ized version of his songwriting would begin to grate on me or get too stale, but it hasn’t. It absolutely works on tracks like “Miracle Aligner” and “She Does The Woods,” which both sound like cuts that could have been on Arctic Monkeys’ record, A.M. But these are made more enjoyable because they contain the characteristics of a really good LSP track: strings swelling in the background, Turner and Kane’s harmonies, and sharp-as-a-tack wordplay. In other words, everything that made me love this project in the first place.
The title track would probably rank among one of my favorite songs to come from The Last Shadow Puppets. Album opener “Aviation” is a nice submerging back into the world of The Last Shadow Puppets after an eight-year sabbatical. A lot of the rhythm guitar that almost reaches funk levels on this record is a nice addition, and track “Bad Habits” is unbridled, dumb rock ‘n’ roll that I seriously can’t get enough of. It rides a basic groove, the lyrics are just phrases (“Bad Habits! Sick Puppy! Pale Faces!”), and it’s cheesy as hell, but it’s full of a certain spunk and character that I’m drawn to.
While this record didn’t necessarily contain the sound I was looking for, I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of any of these two dudes’ other work in any capacity, you owe it to yourself to give this a listen. I could be a jaded fan and complain about the fact LSP doesn’t sound like Scott Walker anymore, but I won’t. These songs are great because they sound like Alex Turner and Miles Kane as self-assured adults instead of impressionable kids, which is exactly what I’d come to expect eight years after the last time these blokes joined forces.
Editor’s Note: Dan’s implementing a new rating scale, replacing the 1-10 scale. Here’s how it works:
- Loved (Something that would fall on my “Best Of” list at the end of the year)
- Liked (An album that I found wholly enjoyable, but not amazing)
- Meh (An album with some good tracks, but weak as a whole)
- Loathed (I regret buying this)
Everything You’ve Come To Expect by The Last Shadow Puppets falls on the “Liked” end of the scale.
— Dan Fiorio, Music Blogger