Since Arctic Monkeys announced an indefinite hiatus in 2014, there hasn’t been much news about them, up until a few months ago when it was announced that The Last Shadow Puppets (a supergroup comprised of Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner and former The Rascals’ frontman Miles Kane) were to release their first album since 2008. Following a handful of singles, Everything You’ve Come to Expect was released on April 1, providing 2016 with a much-needed dose of Baroque pop.
I’m only somewhat familiar with Kane’s music, so I first dove into TLSP’s new release with Arctic Monkeys’ latest album, AM, on my mind. Upon reaching the end of the last track on Everything You’ve Come To Expect, I was slightly bemused to have discovered that it actually was everything I had come to expect.
The album, which was recorded in Malibu, shows a similar evolution to that of Arctic Monkeys’ albums, reflecting AM and Kane’s 2011 solo album, Colour of the Trap, the same way the Last Shadow Puppets’ 2008 debut, the Age of Understatement, reflected Arctic Monkeys’ earlier albums. Compared to its precursor, however, Everything You’ve Come to Expect is dreamier, and infused fairly evenly with influence from both Kane and Turner.
Although the album never dwindles, and is a worthy soundtrack to pair with sunglasses and leather, the best tracks by far are “Sweet Dreams, TN,” which sounds like it came straight off of AM, and “the Dream Synopsis,” a swirly, surreal number dripping with nostalgia and deserving of a place on Turner’s 2010 soundtrack to the Richard Ayoade film Submarine. The album’s overall atmosphere is reminiscent to a classic action-mystery novel–crooning, semi-dark, and seductively whimsical. The lyrics are full of rambling metaphors and vaguely anecdotal lines that identify them as Turner’s, but lack the seriousness and introspectiveness that frequently saturates Turner’s writing. The level of self-imitation varies between songs, from the short, seemingly unrelated statements in “Bad Habits” to the excessively advanced wording choices in “Aviation.” (What does “sectoral heterochromia” mean?)
The lines that best summarize the album’s overall mindset–meritable melodies paired with sesquipedalian, borderline humorous lyrics–appear in “Miracle Aligner”:
He was born to blow your mind,
Or something along those lines
And in the title track:
Baby it’s a never ending spiral
Looks a little bit like Paris
A strong, albeit late, follow-up to The Last Shadow Puppets’ debut, Everything You’ve Come to Expect elicits a characteristic reaction: it makes you want to dance, but a kind of choreographed dancing that’s really just posing. And with a European tour in progress and finally new material, we can only hope for an Arctic Monkeys-& Miles Kane-revival soon, too.