Release Date: May 6, 2008
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
What a difference a year makes. 12 months on from my scathing attack on the Arctic Monkeys’ second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, I find myself in a rather unusual position, sitting down to write a glowing review of an Alex Turner-penned album. It’s a surprise, yes, but not an altogether unpleasant one. Two 4/10 reviews might suggest otherwise, but I can assure you that this site doesn’t have a vendetta against Turner and his band.
It's not that often that side projects are more ambitious than the players' main bands, but the Last Shadow Puppets, the collaboration between the Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner and the Rascals' Miles Kane, is one of those rare birds. With their day jobs, Turner and Kane are revivalists of different strains of "angry young British man" rock, but with the help of drummer/producer James Ford (also of Simian Mobile Disco), arranger Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy), and the London Metropolitan Orchestra, on The Age of the Understatement they revitalize the lush, symphonic pop of early Scott Walker and David Bowie, when they needed an orchestra to express just how sweeping their feelings were. The title track's galloping strings-and-timpani drama begins the album, making it readily apparent just how ironic The Age of the Understatement's name is, and just how well the Last Shadow Puppets have recaptured that lavish late-'60s/early-'70s sound.
This might be news to the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, but for every artist there’s a point where aspiration exceeds ability. The Last Shadow Puppets, his new studio dalliance with pal Miles Kane, have way overshot it on The Age Of The Understatement. While it’s enjoyable to listen to grandly orchestrated Scott Walker, Lalo Schifrin and John Barry recordings, not everyone can make them.
The Last Shadow Puppets, a.k.a. Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner and the Rascals’ Miles Kane, is an ambitious departure for the U.K. indie rockers. Their debut boasts galloping rhythms and vibrato guitars that are indebted to the work of spaghetti-Western soundtrack maestro Ennio Morricone and lovely orchestrations that call to mind pop-melodrama king Scott Walker.
There's nothing understated about this debut collaboration between the Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner and Miles Kane of UK's the Rascals. With a steady pulse provided by James Ford from Simian Mobile Disco and backed by the 22-piece London Metropolitan Orchestra – conducted by Final Fantasy's Owen Pallet – The Age of Understatement adapts Turner's tart tales of modern romance for the big screen. Picking up where the Monkeys' sophomore stunner, Favourite Worst Nightmare, left off last year, the exhilarating title track and "Only the Truth" venture further into Morricone's spaghetti soundtracking, while the risqué "In My Room" scraps the score from GoldenEye.