After nearly eight years, the gruelling wait for the follow-up to 2008’s The Age of the Understatement is finally at an end. Our reward for such persistence of memory? Everything You’ve Come To Expect – the highly anticipated sophomore record from Messrs Tuner, Kane, Ford & now Dawes. Otherwise known as: The Last Shadow Puppets. But does it truly live up to its assertive, yet speculative title? Well, lets see.
Considering the mixed-to-negative response that lead single ‘Bad Habits’ received, the slight air of apprehension from some was to be expected and thus, easily forgivable, though swiftly forgotten once it became clear as to what truly laid in wait, with the two pre-release tasters that followed. The caressing melodic sway of the record’s title track is as poetically serene as the picturesque setting of its accompanying music video. Then, its successor to the limelight ‘Aviation’ imparts such a rampantly rifftastic yet subtly suave essence, that it’s almost as if it’d leapt out from the depths of a 007 soundtrack, strolled through a couple of Bowie references – the most blatant being “sectoral heterochromia” – and on to the head of the album’s track list.
‘Miracle Aligner’ is very much the ‘suck it and see’ moment of the record, both in terms of the Turner-penned tune and the saying that it evokes, with this being the first point of utter uncertainty – for many – as to whether the rest of the songs will take the same side of the coin as the opener, or the two releases that preceded it. Thankfully, an instant sigh of relief would likely be a suitable reaction to the brightly carefree progression it possesses, as Turner’s swooning vocals enthuse ‘go and get ’em tiger’, before breaking into a middle eight that in-part, is reminiscent of The Shadows. What better way to firmly establish its arrival on our eagerly awaiting eardrums?
Taking things up a notch further with ‘Dracula Teeth’ – amid tales of “silver faces on display” and “haunted house sound effects” – the work of Mini Mansions founder: Zach Dawes on bass, confidently endeavours to glisten in all of its rumbling majesty. Keeping with the coarsely apparent trend of throwbacks running throughout the album, it’s hardly comes as a surprise that ‘The Element Of Surprise’ follows suit. With all of the twinkling glitz of AM’s ‘Fireside’, it serves as a consummate precursor to both the aforementioned lead single, as well as what is likely to be Tuner’s spotlight moment in ‘Sweet Dreams, TN’. Every great record – of this fashion at least – needs an outpouring of sheer adoration of some description, and thus, with each and every note drawing closer to its crescendo, all the more impactful it becomes.
Amongst all of the copious highs and isolated lows though, what is effectively the shining beacon of glory along the course of the band’s sophomore effort, takes the mould of a holy trinity of sorts, kicking off with ‘Used To Be My Girl’. Its gnawing guitars, complete with their braying distortion serve to bookend Turner & Kane’s rightfully merciless swagger, as their harmonies irreverently strut across the threshold of ‘She Does The Woods’. To that end, a tonally ominous continuation of this curiously crafted odyssey ensues, with sinister strings and sharply struck keys aplenty, in anticipation of the inevitable conclusion that lays in wait. Standing in the way though, is ‘Pattern’ – Kane’s timely moment of triumph, as he effortless reels off bar after bar of pure poetry, alongside a Johnny Marr-esque riff, so hauntingly benevolent in its own floating pool of hedonism.
Now, with the scene perfectly set, there could only really be one equally impeccable form of an epilogue. ‘The Dream Synopsis’ plays out exactly as is suggested, with Turner taking the lead reigns for the record’s last hurrah, in a piano-laden, Submarine-like homage to “visions of the past and possible future”. So, answer the question posed many, many words ago; I honestly can’t say whether this will turn out be everything you’ve come to expect, but one thing I can, is that it’s probably everything you could’ve ever wanted it to be.
Words by Alex Graham