Alex Turner and Miles Kane are back as the Last Shadow Puppets, still playing at the Riviera bad-boys like Morecambe & Wise at their cinematic best. As on their debut album, they skid on Shirley Bassey strings arrangements like dogshit in a badly-lit car park, and merge Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ histrionics with 50s pizzazz, yet still come out on top.
Lyrically it’s as sharp as a freshly combed quiff, Turner’s wordplay not blunted by their eight year hiatus. The chip shop tuxedo tango dominates but it remains fresh, kicking off with ‘Aviation’, a down the line pop chug, where the orchestration seems to be trying to catch up in the next taxi home.
Things level out on ‘Dracula Teeth’, (I thought it was ‘Draculity’ on first listen, due to Turner’s off-kilter syllable stress) a kind of vampire Bond theme set in Barnsley. There’s a whiff of Gainsbourg and the left bank on the title track, with a touch of Weller at his most gitanes-scented moments.
Throughout the album the strings are to the fore (a twenty-nine piece orchestra was drafted in) – ‘Bad Habits’ even tries to throw in a brief Bernard Herrmann ‘Psycho’ moment – but that’s what we’ve come to expect (so shoot me!).
‘Used To Be My Girl’ is a brief intermission into an almost Pere Ubu groove, before returning to steamy Havana nights with oblique references to kagouls and Spirograph.
Call me a sentimental old fool, but I like quite enjoy this glamorous cinematic sheen blended with references to the grim Sheffield landscape. The pair of them are probably now living in splendour surrounded by LA palm trees, but in an increasingly asinine mainstream pop scene, some swagger and imagination is welcome. And god love’em for reminding us that widescreen glamour is for everybody; and even sweeter with a bit of grit underneath.