By Conner Jensen
The Last Shadow Puppets, a group composed of figureheads in the British alt-rock movement, came into the limelight in 2007 with their release of The Age of the Understatement. Several years later the group is returning with their sophomore album Everything You’ve Come to Expect. With the vocals of Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) backed by James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco) and Zach Dawes (Mini Mansions), it’s not hard to see why this follow up album has been so coveted by fans.
The album begins with a string quartet playing in such a way that mimics a siren to introduce “Aviation.” The song soon begins as the guitar strums in a fashion that turns surf-rock sound on its head, creating a feeling of nostalgia and disconnect. The vocals of Turner blend into the melody to create an entrancing introduction to this work. The guitar sustains a final note as this song fades into “Miracle Aligner.” The song immediately bursts in with a melody supercharged with a summertime vibe. The variation in the percussion blended with the harmony of synthesizer and guitars makes for a euphoric treat for the listener. “Dracula Teeth” starts in at the tempo that the previous song left off, combining the violin into the predominant melody to create a groovy, disco-esque sound with an alternative flair. The guitar serves as an excellent contrast to the violin, creating a euphoric sensation for the listener. The vocal accompaniment by Turner incorporates the theme of disconnect for an all-around enjoyable piece.
“Everything You’ve Come to Expect” is at a slower tempo than the previous songs, with a more ominous sound than anything heard on this album yet. The slow playing of the piano accompanied by the unique percussion forms a surprisingly soothing harmony. The song progresses and the violin accompanies the chorus, and when the melody blends with the nostalgia-driven lyrics it hooks the listener in and has them swaying along with the sound. The pace quickly picks back up as “The Element of Surprise” starts. The melody is comprised of the violin, various percussion instruments, synthesizer and electric guitar, all combining to make an uplifted sound that maintains the overall mood of nostalgia that has been consistent throughout the work. Much like “Dracula Teeth,” this song has a 70s inspired sound with their own alternative flair, and is slightly reminiscent of the Broken Bells.
“Bad Habits” begins with a thumping bass-line, which is soon accompanied with drums and vocals. As the song progresses, various sounds from various instruments fly in and out until they become more prominent in the overall melody. This progression into the overall sound is refreshing as well as off-putting, making for a real auditory journey into the song. This song truly encompasses the scatterbrained sound that fuels mosh-pits, and is keeping very true to the bands alternative punk roots. The album slows back down again with “Sweet Dreams, TN,” which starts out with Turner’s skillful serenading and is soon accompanied by the piano and some light percussion. These instruments blend together to create an alternative-yet-bluesy sound. The soulful singing remains the focus of the song, but this song is also peppered with instrumentals to allow for a full showcase of talent.
“Used To Be My Girl” starts with a country style guitar line. This sound is soon met with the onslaught of instruments to create a unique rock n’ roll sound that is hard to put your finger on, but there’s no denying it has you swaying to the beat. The song ends with an instrumental, which incorporates horns that haven’t yet been heard yet on the album, adding a new flavor to the sound in order to keep the listener enticed. This soon fades out into “She Does the Woods,” an eerie sound with a coastal theme. The synth seldom plays in the melody, adding an ominous sound to the overall melody. The guitar plays a tune that has a coastal sound to it while still maintaining the rock n’ roll sound that the artists are known for. All of these elements come together to form one of the most unique songs on this album, and one that’s not to be skipped.
The violin and guitar come together again to slow the tempo down again with “Pattern.” The violin fluctuates in the background of the melody to form a groovy and ominous accompaniment to the masterful vocals of Turner. The mood of nostalgia and euphoria are still very prominent in this song, as they have been throughout the other songs in this album. “The Dream Synopsis” starts with the slow playing of a piano accompanied by sparse percussion. The lyrics create a feeling of longing, regret, and distance, encompassing all the moods that have been prominent throughout. This slow finish to an album with such a range of tempo really allows the listener to relax and absorb the audio experience they just had.
British punk fans are sure to be drooling for more after just one listen through this album. The collaboration brings together everything you know and love about the member’s other musical groups and blends it together to create something new and equally as enjoyable. Although nine years is a long time to wait for a sophomore album, fans are going to be all the more satisfied when they realize the wait was well worth it. This surely isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of this super group, but hopefully we’ll see them again within this decade, because frankly I don’t think the world can wait that long for another work of this caliber.