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May 19, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Album Review: The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of the Understandment

The Last Shadow Puppets is a side project by Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner and Miles Kane of Liverpool band The Rascals. Their album The Age of the Understatement plays like a darker reimagining of 60s sophisticate-pop, in a similar vein to Glasvegas, but beefier.

Now as a longtime Arctic Monkeys fan I’m probably a touch too uncritical, but I can’t find much to fault this album on. It opens with the thundering title track, whose military drums pull it along like a motor with the vocals soaring over the top, and it only gets more glorious from there on in, The use of an orchestra makes the arrangements lush and atmospheric, evoking a twisted vision of the world of kitchen sink dramas and the Grim North – like the bastard child of the Arctic Monkeys and Dusty Springfield. The lyrics are very reminiscent of the Monkeys’ last album Favourite Worst Nightmare, with the same smart-aleckiness and enigmatic storytelling, adding to the somewhat gothic atmosphere, and closing track ‘The Time Has Come’ is musically reminiscent of “The Only Ones Who Know’ from that album as well.

If this album has a weakness it’s that the feel of the songs is often too similar. They’re all strong tracks but as a unit they could have benefited from a bit more variation in arrangements, timbre and so on. In a way, the first ten tracks feel like one long medley rather than a collection of songs, before the lighter-textured (although just as melancholy) ‘Meeting Place’ breaks the pattern. But this doesn’t detract from the quality; don’t most of us put everything on shuffle these days anyway?

As far as side projects go, The Last Shadow Puppets get it right – similar enough to the members’ main work to appeal to the fans, but different enough to keep interest. Go get it.


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