CLUAS Album Reviews

The Last Shadow Puppets 'Age Of The Understatement'

May 14

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008  RssIcon

A review of the album 'The Age Of The Understatement' by The Last Shadow Puppets

Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of UnderstatementReview Snapshot: So here's Alex Turner's side project: a fairly unoriginal Scott Walker pastiche, with Duran Duran-esque lyrics. Of course, this must be down to that bloody Miles Kane, right?

The Cluas Verdict? 5 out of 10

Full Review:
Comparing The Last Shadow Puppets with The Raconteurs is obvious, but it's still worth our while:

Both Jack White and Alex Turner have won extravagant acclaim in their day-job groups (The White Stripes and The Arctic Monkeys respectively) for little other than flogging retro-rock to nostalgic middle-aged music hacks and twentysomethings who are prematurely nostalgic and middle-aged.

However, White's side-project made the daring leap from '70s rock to... '60s rock, that of The Small Faces and George's songs on 'Rubber Soul' and 'Revolver'. And what do you know? Turner's time machine has followed a similar flight path. He's gone from cleaned-up punk and post-punk back to, of all things, eccentric late-'60s English symphonic pop. This doesn't make him any less unambitious or unimaginative than White, indie rock's greatest chancer.

Comparing 'The Age Of The Understatement' with Scott Walker is obvious too. But if Turner can be unoriginal then so can we. Those swooping strings and tenement-drama tales of tragic starlets, patent Walker, have already been used threadbare by Tindersticks, Marc Almond and The Divine Comedy amongst others. By now these sounds are familiar references, English indie-pop code for "Look! I'm hip, intellectual and sensitive! I've watched 'Billy Liar', read 'Brideshead Revisited' and listened to, well, Scott Walker!"

But it would be unfair and inaccurate of us to dismiss this album as 100% recycled Scott. The middle section of the title track sounds exactly like the middle section of a Northern Soul classic called 'The Night' by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Your reviewer knows the song from a cover by Saint Etienne-esque Manchester group Intastella - and it's also been done by Soft Cell and, apparently, Klaxons. See what we mean by unoriginal?

Turner's one innovation here, if we presume it's by him and not Kane, is in the lyrics. He's replaced the unconvincing Costello-esque sneering of The Arctic Monkeys with pretentious my-first-poetry-kit nonsense as in 'Calm Like You': "Burglary and fireworks / The skies they were alighting / Accidents and toffee drops / And thinking on the train." So were the skies alighting from the same train, then?

And 'Only The Truth' is worthy of Duran Duran: "The girl with many different strategies / Wakes the wolves to curse them to their knees / She's the one by the riverbank so it's easier for her to drown you." This, remember, is co-credited to a songwriter venerated by today's music press (you know, those nostalgic, middle-aged types.) as a lyricist extraordinaire.

We assume that this will be the last of The Last Shadow Puppets. But then again, there was a second Raconteurs album. And a second Arctic Monkeys album too, and a few by the White Stripes...

Aidan Curran

 To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.

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9 comment(s) so far...


Re: The Last Shadow Puppets 'The Age Of The Understatement'

To be fair, as you really don't seem much a fan of Alex Turner's and have approached this release with a less than pre-conceived idea, wouldn't it have been more enlightening to have someone who has no real entrenched views on Turner to have a listen? Or are the sole employee?

By Willie Nelson on   Monday, May 12, 2008

Re: The Last Shadow Puppets 'The Age Of The Understatement'

To be fair, reviewing music without having a pre-conceived idea is virtually impossible, more so when it involves someone as well known as Turner. If you want to email eoghan(at)cluas.com with your own review I'm sure he'll take a look. From my own point of view, 5 out of 10 was Aidan being generous for Age of the Understatement. The record is, at best pointless, at worst, a damning reflection of how hype can only better substance only for so long. Though, you clearly don't agree, so perhpas Aidan isn't the only one with entrenched views on young Alex

By Idiot Kid on   Monday, May 12, 2008

Re: The Last Shadow Puppets 'Age Of The Understatement'

To be fair, I have no intention of emailing this eoghan whoever with my review as it would clearly be adding to the entrenchment attitude prevalent on this site (albeit with an entirely different slant) and that is exactly what I was railing against in the first instance. And the talk of hype is just so lame these days, I'm suspecting you were one of the 'king canute crowd' who have had to keep revising the time period of crash and burn as the albums and awards have piled up, in the hope that one day you will be able to inform the readers with goldfish-type memories that you were right all along. Hype, idiot kid (lol) doesn't sustain any act for any length of time, let alone 3 best selling albums, a Mercury plus a nom the year after plus God knows how many more awards, not forgetting the headlining slot at Glasto when the band were 21 years of age.

If plenty of people have bought the album (they have), many have enjoyed listening to it (they seem to) then how can it be pointless except in the mind of a music snob who wears the support of obscure bands like some badge of honour? I'd never heard of this site before I saw the review, and have now contributed 2 posts to it. I won't be contributing any more so post a reply as inflamatory as you wish, I won't be reading it.

By Willie Nelson on   Thursday, May 15, 2008

Re: The Last Shadow Puppets 'Age Of The Understatement'

Dude this review is a very good thing I love the attitude. Yes Jack white is an unbelievable chancer, yes Alex Turner's lyrics are cringeworthy, yes British music is in the gutter. Don't stop now my friend, do have the walnuts to review the Irish versions of these acts with the same candor? People you might bump into on the street after all. Rock and roll badly, badly needs a bit of honesty in the press right now - good on you.

By the last band name with the last in it on   Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Re: The Last Shadow Puppets 'Age Of The Understatement'

To be honest I think its a terrible review of the album, you spent more time name dropping who its like than actually reviewing it. And having properly listened to the album it is so far ahead of what the attic monkeys have done and also shows a real desire to take his music in a different direction which is the only thing that can keep their career going on a long term basis no one wants to hear 4 of the same attic monkeys albums,

By jon doe on   Friday, May 23, 2008

Re: The Last Shadow Puppets 'Age Of The Understatement'

To be honest I think its a terrible review of the album, you spent more time name dropping who its like than actually reviewing it. And having properly listened to the album it is so far ahead of what the attic monkeys have done and also shows a real desire to take his music in a different direction which is the only thing that can keep their career going on a long term basis no one wants to hear 4 of the same attic monkeys albums,

By jon doe on   Friday, May 23, 2008
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Re: The Last Shadow Puppets 'Age Of The Understatement'

Jesus thats the most ill-conceived, hateful, inaccurate review I've ever read.
The boy Turner is one of the most prolific, poetic, accessible writers of his generation.

By Alan on   Sunday, July 06, 2008
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Re: The Last Shadow Puppets 'Age Of The Understatement'

I am a classical snob. I dispise most pop music. I heard one of their songs the other day in my friends car and instantly really liked it (as these are not your average mainstream composers). If I am being mislead and they are infact "bad musicians", they everything in my body is being lied to. They are obviously clever if they've tapped into the ability to get a reaction like that. But not quite as clever or as cool as a reviewer who writes a bad review so his site will be bombarded with heaps of comments that he can "wittingly" rebut to... you're real "cool". (lol)

By Dan, NZ on   Saturday, October 04, 2008

Re: The Last Shadow Puppets 'Age Of The Understatement'

To be fair, sarcasm appears to be beyond you and so my reply would doubtless be wasted anyway. I do have to say though your opinion that selling bucketloads of records and playing glastonbury makes you a musical god doesn't really stand up when you consider Shakin' Stevens has done pretty much the same. Musical genius my arse.

By Idiot Kid on   Tuesday, May 20, 2008

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