The Last Shadow Puppets: Everything You’ve Come to Expect (Domino) Review

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Eight years ago a side project album sort of came out of nowhere, a debut by The Last Shadow Puppets titled The Age of the Understatement. It shot to the top of the UK charts and was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize. The band did a handful of shows, but slowly vanished away from the limelight, as the chief collaborators’ day jobs became more demanding (singer Alex Turner is the singer and creative force behind The Arctic Monkeys, who’ve had multiple hit albums in the interim, and Miles Kane fronts The Rascals, who have a good following of their own).

Now the band’s gotten back together and recorded a new album, and are touring behind it, and it’s a glorious slab of subdued orchestral pop. Everything You’ve Come to Expect doesn’t reinvent what The Age of the Understatement got right, it just refines it and maybe stretches its legs a bit.

The album definitely falls into the “throwback” category, but that’s not a bad thing at all. In its best moments, such as lead single “Aviation,” or on “Dracula’s Teeth,” the songs gallop and sweep you up into what sounds like a soundtrack to an imaginary ’60s movie. And there’s a lot of other great moments that are like early Beatles as produced by Lee Hazelwood, such as the title track’s vocal effect (the lyrics are a highlight as well).

“Miracle Aligner” has a few cringe-worthy rhymes, but Turner’s crooning sells them completely, and when you throw in the spaghetti Western tremolo guitars, the song gets dragged back to the credible. “Sweet Dreams, TN” shows off Turner’s croon as well, but here he steps out of throwback mode with some modern lyrics, such as “It’s like everyone’s a dick without you, baby,” not something you’d hear Sinatra throw down quite so overtly.

Every song has strings on it, so if strings aren’t your thing, this album isn’t going to do it for you. They feel used to great effect within arrangements, though, and create a feeling of cinematic grandeur at key moments. And they never get sappy, and don’t get in the way of the big grooves, such as on tunes like “Bad Habits,” which has a suitably Mick Jagger squawk intro and dance-worthy soul groove, and “Used To Be My Girl,” which has rhymes to spare and Great Big Drums.

Everything You’ve Come to Expect, like its predecessor, is the kind of music rarely being made anymore, which is an amazing thing in and of itself. Let’s hope it doesn’t take them another eight years to make a follow-up.

Everything You’ve Come to Expect is out April 1 on Domino Records.

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Bryon Dudley is a writer and musician from Ames. He has written about music and other topics for a number of local publications and blogs. When not playing music and putting out albums with groups such as Strong Like Bear, Liana, and Rockets of Desire, he is helping other Iowa artists record their music at his studio, The Spacement, and releasing it on the Iowa label he co-founded, Nova Labs. He has a tattoo of an aardvark and is adjusting to bifocals.