“That rare and thrilling moment when the record you’re working on crosses the threshold into Classic Status #tlsp2”: The Tweet that, perhaps too obviously, announced the return of The Last Shadow Puppets last October. Owen Pallett brought the strings to the duo’s debut, The Age Of The Understatement, and with these 180 characters, give or take, there was hope that the long awaited follow-up would continue their sound as expected.
With lead-single ‘Bad Habits’ released during the height of the world mourning Bowie’s death, it quickly indicated that, while all elements of the sound were there, this wasn’t going to be the early Bowie/Scott Walker tribute some might have hoped for. Instead, a simple bass-line lead the way for chants and angst from Miles Kane (“Thigh high. Knee deep”) while Pallett’s strings – sweeping one moments and stabbing the next – once again became the third full-time member of the band.
It’s not to say Bowie’s influence doesn’t linger; The building march of ‘Sweet Dreams, TN’ allows Turner’s crone to crescendo in a ‘Five Years’ sort of style, while the haunted carousel and whispered vocals of the title track mirrors some of his more playful performances. Elsewhere, the album is like a collection of classic Bond demos: ‘Dracula Teeth’ sees their vocals creep, while the disco strings and funk guitar of ‘The Element Of Surprise’ provides a shake and stir like ‘Thunderball’ performed inside a mirrorball.
If The Age Of The Understatement was the bromance during the day, the follow up sees the pair out for the evening, still in sync – their vocals sounding subtly strong together – but with a more natural take on their style. On ‘Miracle Aligner’ the poetry of Turner’s sexual prowess flows, as he references doo-wops and suggests “go and get ‘em tiger” in a way many couldn’t. The beauty of the duo, however, is that while moments hint at the Arctic Monkeys (there’s a Humbug hint during ‘Used To Be My Girl’ and ‘She Does The Woods’) the majority of the tracklist wouldn’t work anywhere but a Last Shadow Puppets album.
‘Pattern’ provides the big ballad moment, with Kane singing “I slip and I slide like a spider on an icicle frozen in time” before the first real signs of an electric guitar shred the outro, and Turner closes the collection with ‘The Dream Synopsis’. “Isn’t it boring when I talk about my dreams?” he asks, and as expected, for perhaps the first time in history, it isn’t. Classic sounding and sure to retain Turner and Kane’s status as frontrunner’s in current British songwriting, this is exactly what you’d expect from their follow-up, and that’s no bad thing at all.
Everything You’ve Come To Expect is released on 1st April via Domino Recording Co.