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The Last Shadow Puppets certainly began as a side project for The Artic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and Miles Kane of The Rascals fame. Their debut LP The Age Of Understatement was released some eight odd years ago, and although there was genuine appeal in some of what it contained, the majority of folk listening were doing so because they were already members of the two musicians respective band’s fan bases.
In comparison, Everything You’ve Come To Expect immediately shouts progress, specifically when it comes to the more mature sound that Turner and Kane have created, and is undeniably a much tighter effort. In that respect it’s really the opposite of what you may have come to expect from The Last Shadow Puppets.
There isn’t much on this record that will get you up and dancing, but that’s definitely not what Turner and Kane are trying to achieve. Even the more up-beat tracks like Pattern aren’t conventionally so, and are more about building soundscapes than rocking out.
Bad Habits is probably the fastest track on the album, and even then it’s the string countermelodies, use of melodic discord, and exploration of space that are the most distinct aspects of the song.
So much of this album is about pitting unexpected instrumentation in new rock-ish contexts. In its essence it is a post-modern style project that attempts to steer away from generic conventions. Through incorporating a vast array of instruments and electronic production effects, various ways of featuring Turner’s voice are explored in great detail. Sweet Dreams, TN feels like the entire track is built around his dark, echoic baritone.
Although there are certainly shades of Arctic Monkeys in some aspects of the record, any familiarity is closer matched with slow-tempo tracks from their back catalogue than anything they’ve done recently. Further, most of the familiarity one might hear on any given track can more than likely be mostly put down to Turner’s inimitably accented vocals.
The pulsing Miracle Aligner definitely broods like a Monkeys’ track but for the fact that Turner explores his use of vibrato to a much grander extent and the production includes synth and strings.
The use of strings is hugely influential on the mood and tone generated from numerous cuts on The Age Of Understatement. Dracula Teeth begins with a question an answer phrase that flows from a guitar riff into a string ostinato which becomes a recurring thematic idea that often connects sections of the song together.
Strings are used to similar effect in the listless and day-dreamy conclusion The Dream Synopsis. It’s a similar story for almost every track on the album, and such a liberal use of strings adds a powerfully emotive dimension to the production that couldn’t ever have been achieved with conventional rock band instrumentation.