The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of The Understatement

Last Shadow PuppetsWhen you listen to the Arctic Monkeys, you think of the North of England; working class accents, gritty upbringings, kitchen sink dramas and the minutiae of everyday life. Listening to the Last Shadow Puppets makes me think of continental Europe, the mystery and intrigue of the cold war, the epic sweep of romance and operatic tragedy. The contrast between Alex Turner’s main band and his side project with Miles Kane couldn’t be more pronounced: their album, The Age Of The Understatement harks back to a by-gone age of orchestral pop that recalls Scott Walker during his mercurial solo career. The album has been made with the collaboration of Simian Mobile Disco member James Ford, who produces and plays the drums. The other key collaborator is Owen Pallet of Final Fantasy who arranges the sweeping orchestral sounds that help give the album a grandiose feel.

Despite sharing vocal duties Turner and Kane sound very similar, so the effect is more akin to the technique of double tracking the vocals. The big string sound envelopes every track, often abetted by brass and some canny use of echo effects. The songs never hesitate or rely on a slow build up: it’s straight in, deliver the goods and then they’re gone. Even the longest track on the album, “Black Planet” is only four minutes long (although there’s an artificially extended outro, which feels unnecessary). The whole album is done in just under 35 minutes.

The Age of The Understatement shows why the Arctic Monkeys could surpass Oasis as one of the best British Bands of recent times. The Gallaghers were content to be a pastiche of themselves by the time they’d recorded their second album. With this album, Alex Turner shows he can be more that just the sum of his influences. Even a track like “I Don’t Like You Anymore” could conceivably be an Arctic Monkeys track manages to expand it’s origins into a force able guitar-driven pop song. There’s plenty of standouts, especially the nocturnal “My Mistakes Were Made For You” and the driving title track.

The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of The Understatement:


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