The Last Shadow Puppets–Gas Dance

More often than not, musical collaborations are misguided affairs, with each party losing something in the process.  Occasionally though, something entirely new and worthwhile can appear.  Such was the case with The Age of the Understatement, the first outing for Alex Turner and Miles Kane as The Last Shadow Puppets.  In the wake of their second album, Everything You’ve Come to Expect, it’s worth taking a look back at what made the original work so successful, arguably much more so than the follow up.  The latest songs are largely overwrought, self-serious affairs bolstered by Turner and Kane’s newfound desire to prove themselves to be macho rock stars (don’t get me wrong, though, there are still some stellar tracks).  The Age of the Understatement, in contrast, rarely lost its sense of joyful experimentation, even in its most grandiloquent, orchestral moments.  The first time around, the duo wanted to see what they could do.  This time they want to prove it.  Even a B-side like Gas Dance, from the Standing Next to Me single, stacks up favorably against much of the new material.  Backed by James Ford on drums, the duo sculpt a cinematic, dream-like experience that still manages to be a bit scruffy.  For his part, Turner’s lyrics are crucially on point, opening with his former signature romance.  “There she was, graciously making forever less terrifying,” he whimpers as much as he croons.  He describes the scene as if he’s watching it play out in front of him, even when he’s in it.  “There I was, panicking because someone else kissed me in a dream/And it was on the CHEEK,” he adds, in one of the most delightful overpronunciations in music history.  While taking huge influence from Lee Hazlewood and Scott Walker, the youthful excitement of Turner and Kane in 2008 transformed their baroque pop into something special.  Sadly, they seem to have lost much of their original spark.

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