Release Date: Jun 3, 2013
Record label: Columbia
Coming to prominence as Alex Turner's foil in the strikingly retro the Last Shadow Puppets, Miles Kane is still besotted with the past, but on his second solo album, Don't Forget Who You Are, he's left behind Baroque or any other traces of a gentler, folkier pop. Instead, he paints entirely in bold, bright colors, happily reviving memories of Swinging London and T Rextacy, but by fusing these two glorious eras of British pop, he inevitably evokes the ghost of Brit-pop, that heady '90s phenomenon that crystallized the classic sounds of Britain. Any which way you cut it, Don't Forget Who You Are is a throwback, so what matters is execution, and this is where Kane excels, both in construction and production.
It’s interesting that Miles Kane’s chosen to call his second album ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’. Around the time of his 2011 debut, ‘Colour Of The Trap’, the message coming from the Kane camp was the exact opposite. Wirral’s best-tailored export wanted listeners to remove his most successful work, with Alex Turner in The Last Shadow Puppets, from their memories.
After the Little Flames, the Rascals, and partnering Alex Turner in the Last Shadow Puppets, Miles Kane's second solo album finds him racing time to get further than second billing on the NME tour. Producer Ian Broudie has helped fashion a big, brash, tuneful sound from 1960s beat pop, 70s glam stomp and 90s Britpop, with co-writes from Andy Partridge and Paul Weller. The knowing pastiche works less well with the lyrics, as Kane's homages stray into to clunky cliches and steals ("What else can a poor boy do?").
Some artists are ahead of their time. Some are of it and some are firmly rooted in the past – making music that would fit in years or even decades before them. Miles Kane is definitely in the latter camp. He’s got the mod haircut, rakish good looks and fashion sense. He also has the background ….
You've found the perfect pair of trousers. It's taken some time perusing the aisles of the high street retail chain, but finally you're ready to brave the changing rooms. The bloodied fingers of child labourers are a fleeting concern, one which dulls as you pull the trousers on and realise they go great with your new shoes. At that moment, in the mirrored cubicle, as your mind refocuses, you finally acknowledge the soundtrack that’s been swirling around you from the in-store speakers.
With a CV peppered with collaborations with Alex Turner, Noel Gallagher and now Paul Weller, who co-writes a song here, former Rascal Miles Kane evidently has no trouble attracting A-list patronage. But on the basis of this second album, it isn't easy to see why. There's certainly a brash self-confidence to the glam-rock stylings of Taking Over, which wouldn't have sounded out of place on Arctic Monkeys' last album, and Ian Broudie's production means even the less memorable songs pack a muscular punch.