posted on May 14, 2008 03:03
A review of the album 'The Age Of The Understatement' by The Last Shadow Puppets
Review 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
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...
To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.