The Last Shadow Puppets hit music charts worldwide eight years ago when their debut album, “The Age of the Understatement,” was released, delivering epic cinematic tracks accompanied with intricate strings and the collaborative lyricism of artist Miles Kane and Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner.
After 2008, duo Turner and Kane went into a hiatus without delivering a promise for the return of the Last Shadow Puppets. Indie rock band Arctic Monkeys soon stole the spotlight, demanding most of Turner’s attention that came to a head after the critically-acclaimed release of Arctic Monkeys’ self-titled album “AM.” Turner completed a two-year long world tour with the Monkeys before the group went on hiatus — and after so many gigs, I can’t say I was expecting to see material from Arctic Monkeys within the year, let alone the dormant Shadow Puppets.
Aptly named “Everything You’ve Come to Expect,” the Puppets’ second album was released on April 2 by Domino Recording Company and is the soundtrack to a movie that you’d definitely want to see.
Canadian conductor Owen Pallett is responsible for the layered string arrangements on both their first and second album, though EYCTE doesn’t parallel the nouveau-western cellos implemented in their debut. Instead, Turner and Kane incorporate elements of disco dance (“Dracula Teeth,” “The Element of Surprise”) and classic rock ‘n’ roll with otherwise classical strings, setting up the scene for yet another cinematic album full of twists, turns and orchestrated chaos.
The album opens with the shrill ascension of violins, only to abruptly stop and carry on with a steady guitar riff and accompanying beat. Kane, who carries a hard-edged voice similar to that of Bob Dylan, is the first voice we hear. He belts out a song that would sound classically Western had it not been for the playful accompanying violin.
Though most of EYCTE’s tracks are a collaborated work by both Turner and Kane, Turner worked solely on three tracks from the album — lyrically, his presence is heard. The album reaches its peak on track seven, “Sweet Dreams, TN.”
Vocally, the song is peppered with sudden bursts of frustration that exemplify Turner’s developing vocal range that deepened significantly in between 2008 and 2016. Now sporting a low, baritone drawl — Turner addresses his hopeless, lonely state with clumsy lyrics and simple rhyme in the first second of the ballad, “I just sorta always feel sick without you baby/I ain’t got anything to lick without you baby.”
Without the veil of Arctic Monkeys, Turner’s songwriting turns personal. He assumes the position of the narrator, adding his wit to cliché expressions heard in the verse “You’re the first day of spring/With a septum piercing.”
The track is classic rock ‘n’ roll, complete with a desperate narrator who calls out a first and final “Little Miss Sweet Dreams, Tennessee!”, a declaration of love and potential allusion to Turner’s Midwest sweetheart, Taylor Bagley.
Following track “Used to Be My Girl” features Turner and Kane rasping out hot and heavy vocals and backed by a chugging guitar — succinct and dark, the album continues down this road by establishing a 1950s horror-flick sound reminiscent of TAOTU (“She Does The Woods,” “The Dream Synopsis”).
“Bad Habits” was the first EP released by the Last Shadow Puppets, demonstrating an unbridled chaos, Kane’s vocals lashing out violently against screeching, fast-paced violins and a chugging guitar. Though overall impressed with the refined, ever-exciting new sound — “Bad Habits” felt oddly unresolved due to the duo’s inclination to work in a lot of strange chord shifts and key changes.
EYCTE ends on a bittersweet note, Kane and Turner’s overlapped voices muffled by static and partnered with upbeat, happy-go-lucky (and possibly Beach Boys-inspired) instrumentals. “The Bourne Identity” addresses a dual anti-personality experienced by the narrator, who finds himself destroying the good that comes to him and bidding that personality farewell, chiming “Yeah I’ll be leaving now I’m making tracks/And I doubt that I’ll be coming back.”
Overall, “Everything You’ve Come to Expect” didn’t disappoint. The audibly cinematic experience that fans bought a ticket for in 2008 has returned eight years later, and I don’t have a doubt that the Last Shadow Puppets are embarking on the world tour of their lives. The Last Shadow Puppets will be performing in Los Angeles on April 20 at The Theatre at Ace Hotel.