woensdag 11 mei 2016

Everything You've Come To Expect. The Last of the Shadow Puppets

Was I disappointed by Alex Turner for the first time? I have to admit I was just that after I had listened to Everything You've Come To Expect for the first and the second time. Now this is no Arctic Monkeys and no matter how nice a songwriter Miles Kane is, he's no Alex Turner and does not even come close. The first The Last of the Shadow Puppets album was a hard nut to crack, I am no Scott Walker bombast fan. At best mildly tolerant for a short period of time, before I have had more than enough. 'The Age Of The Understatement' was a good album any way.

Things changed though, working my way into this album. Slowly 'Aviation' started to creep on me. This song is extremely poppy and would have been a big hit in the 60s. It would have been daring and new at the time. Now it is daring and mature. It could never have sounded like it sounds in 2016 of course, but the intentions are very clear. The roving strings that push themselves over the arpeggiated guitar notes and strong rhythm. The Beatles have done these sort of things. This song has a great build up and a beautiful ending. When 'Aviation' got me big time, I had my way into 'Everything You've Come To Expect'. So is the title delivering any way?

Not to fast, as I keep having the impression that some of the songs are a bit strained. There's nothing free-flowing in the music in an easy way. So here we have the link with the last Arctic Monkeys album, 'AM'. Deconstructive rock. Does that term exist? It applies.

There are attempts to light weight pop songs on 'Everything ...', like 'Miracle Aligner', that could have been sung by totally different kind of singers of a sort that I would stop listening to instantly. The rhythm guitar is slightly more prominent, while the strings are mixed halfway into my face. The song is suave, close to a Las Vegas staple show song, with an indie twist, obfuscated but there. The mix between the suaveness and alternative comes out a lot better in 'Dracula Teeth'. The intentions seem to be the same, the input of the band is larger, while arranger Owen Pallett steps back a little.

This dance between sounds remains all through the album. It would do injustice to both Pallett and producer/drummer James Ford to state that they are not members of The Last of the Shadow Puppets. (Bass player Zach Dawes of Mini Mansions is also listed as member.) Owen Pallett certainly is a full member in the studio as he has a large hand in the sound of the band and worked along the band in the studio. The dance works a miracle in the up beat and louder song 'Bad Habits'. Dawes' bass may be subtle compared to his own band, here he is lightning up the track with his fast plopping bass.

One of the strong points of this band is the way Kane and Turner sing. Both sing lead and harmony throughout songs, moving up or down the mix, stepping forward and back. There's no front man in the classical sense. A song like 'Sweet Dreams, Tn', is the exception to that claim. It is also a song in which The Last Of The Shadow Puppets show their love for 60s music that disappeared from the scene the moment the psychedelic era broke big. The Walker Brothers, The Righteous Brothers, the sound influenced by Phil Spector, it all went down the road of eternity when The Beatles released 'Sgt. Pepper's'. The kind of songs that I like, but do not love. Songs that I admire but do not feel deep down. Songs like 'The Sun Anin't Gonna Shine Anymore' and 'Unchained Melody'.

It is the indie of 'Used To Be My Girl' that I really love on Everything You've Come To Expect. The droning guitar, the sort of drab singing, calls forward a totally different atmosphere: T. Rex 1971. "I'm a jeepster for your love". That kind of thing. Again the song is not fluent, not aiming for the perfect pop song. It's dirty, dragged across the floor and kicked into a corner, lips bleeding, front teeth broken. "You used to be my girl", right, clear. It is over.

By the time I reach 'Pattern', a sort of soul song of the Philly sort, I also recognise that the band experimented with different sounds and influences and gets them down in the right ways. Mission accomplished it seems.

Alex Turner has set his standard so high, that it will get more difficult to top that per record to come. He does not make that standard here. He easily makes the The Last of the Shadow Puppets' standard. When all is said and done, and I may have muttered a bit here, Everything You've Come To Expect, topples its predecessor with ease. The album is less naive, lighter and darker at the same time and holds a few timeless songs and some special ones. So, no, the album does not live up to its name, but from there there is more than enough to enjoy.

Wo.

You can listen to Aviation'' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd1Xc6-6VVg

and buy the album here:


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