The Last Shadow Puppets - Everything You've Come To Expect (B)

Just to be upfront, Alex Turner’s vocals could sell me on any project. His pitch, delivery, and attitude give importance to lyrics that otherwise might be fumbled or disintegrate coming out of a less cool mouth. The Last Shadow Puppets is Turner’s (Arctic Monkeys) side project with guitarist and vocalist Miles Kane (the Rascals) and drummer James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco), as well as the recent addition of Zach Dawes (Mini Mansions) on bass. This is actually one of the more refreshing side projects in recent memory, the direction they’ve taken their sound is very different from all of their main projects, unlike what they did with their first record together. Then again they’re all eight years wiser and their skill set and musical understanding has improved considerably. This supports my opinion of bands taking at least three years in-between albums. It gives them time to grow both artistically and personally, and you can almost always hear that maturity on the record.  

The overall feel of Everything You’ve Come To Expect jumps around quite a bit, though it’s identity is firmly rooted in a vintage rock/ blues vibe, it still has elements of everything else, from R&B to punk and even a little disco (check out the addictive “The Element of Surprise”). Turner brings a classic feel to everything he touches and that’s in full effect here. My favorite thing about the record is that you can feel the fun they’re having with their creation, the looseness in their sound. The foursome radiates energy, breathing life into each track. While the more full bodied tunes are what define the album, I’d be lying if I said those were what drew me in, as it’s the simple tracks that took hold of me the most. Tracks like the warm and relaxed old school jam, “Miracle Aligner” or “Sweet Dreams, TN,” which modernizes the doo-wop sound, slowly building into a string led explosion. Then again it’s not much of a surprise as my favorite tracks from the first record, The Age Of The Understatement, were the innocently upbeat “Meeting Place” and the intimate closer “The Time Has Come Again.” Where Everything You’ve Come To Expect shines is in it’s ability to switch it up without making it feel choppy. Like how the aforementioned “Sweet Dreams, TN” is followed up with the heavy “Used To Be My Girl,” whose steady pounding drum and bass line make me feel like the badass I will never be, as I cruise around in my family ready Volkswagen Passat (that’s right ladies, the man of your dreams DOES drive a four door sedan xo). 

The album here plays beautifully, a definite improvement from the first record, which was solid, but felt like an extension of Arctic Monkey’s more than its own entity. Here they’ve created something that has its own identity, shedding the skins of their main projects and allowing themselves to create something that represents them as a group rather than a series of individuals. They capitalized by smoothing out the edges without completely removing the rawness that made the first record so appealing. And while I do miss the James Bond-ish retro grooves like “My Mistakes Were Made For You” or even the louder “In My Room” from the first record, I would trade them in without hesitation for what we’re given here. Now I just need to figure out how to make this record last for the next eight years while I wait for their third release…