Messrs Alex Turner and Miles Kane collide once again to birth album number two as The Last Shadow Puppets. The posters boys of modern British indie music place all impetus on ‘cool’, producing a predictable sleek noire effort.
Turner’s transition from scruffy indie-boy to slick quaffed crooner resulted in 2013’s ‘AM’, a painstakingly blunt record with little excitement to be found amongst its grey instrumentation and nonsensical lyrics. This combination was heralded by some as a masterstroke, and it is with this combination Turner and mod-wannabe pal Kane, continue. ‘Aviation’ is served as the LP’s amuse bouche, as strings cast a monochrome filter over the record from the off, as Turners baritone wavers against a propulsive bass, spewing dire, un-relatable, unintelligent non-words. These non-words infest ‘Everything you’ve come to expect’, from the horrendous “Haunted house sound effects//Dracula teeth” on the dishwater dull ‘Dracula teeth’, lurching to the pathetic “you’re the first day of spring//with a septum piercing” on ‘Sweet Dreams, TN’ before mediocrity plummets into the abyss on ‘She does the woods’ with the rhyme of “sensible shoes//purple kagoules”. Abysmal. From a man heralded as one of the greatest songwriters of his generation by NME. No wonder the ailing publication is on its last legs.
Perhaps Turner and Kane’s musicianship can rescue the album from its toxic infatuation with horrendous lyrics? Extinguish those candles of optimism, the answer is absolutely not. The album lacks any variation, flair or genuinely interesting guitar leads, drums or bass grooves; never before has a guitar solo sounded as safe as on ‘Miracle Aligner’. Safe is the word sprinting to the fore when listening to ‘Everything you’ve come to expect’; even the memorable bizarre fairground music opening to the title track gives way to some heavy-handed riff and beige backbeat. There is a severe dearth of innovation throughout the album, with tales of yearning for some unrequited love churned out time and time again, with ‘The element of surprise’ and ‘Sweet Dreams, TN’ shining as particularly ham-fisted stabs at appearing seductive. Single ‘Bad Habits’ is the most energetic thing on the album, as jarring strings and animalistic screams from Kane aim to make the track sound ‘dangerous’, sadly the track is let down by an entirely unconvincing vocal performance from Kane, with the chorus “Bad habits//yeah” devoid of any menace. This lack of energy is apparent on the sleepy ‘The dream synopsis’, and in the desert-tinged guitars of ‘She does the woods’. On the latter track, the flat delivery and lack of conviction is clarified by the presence of strings; the atmospheric power of strings is completely at odds with the bland nature of the songs. ‘Used to be my girl’ could not be more uninspiring if it tried, lazily tussling with closer ‘The bourne identity’ for champion of mundanity. One of the albums only highlights (if you can call it that) is the slinking funk riff of ‘Pattern’, and even that is cruelly sabotaged by Kane’s nasal sneer.
‘Everything you’ve come to expect’ is an instantly forgettable drag from boring start to boring finish. Turner and Kane can still bank on their status as indie rock iconoclasts of cool, they will remain as poster boys, but god knows why; their Last Shadow Puppets project is dead in the water after falling flat on every front. A reflection of the depressing state of British indie music.