Terrible twosomes don’t come as jack-the-lad as Arctic Monkeys frontrunner Alex Turner and ‘I-used-to-be-in-a-band-too-guys’ champion of seediness Miles Kane. The archetypal ‘bromance’, while their CVs might be chalk and cheddar, get them together and they’re two blocks of stinky stilton cuddling up on a metaphorical cheeseboard of 60s nostalgia.
The Last Shadow Puppets, the pair’s joint musical outlet, was previously resigned to the bargain bin of early 00s indie excess. Perhaps unfairly – dig beneath the big-money Bond excesses of debut album ‘The Age Of The Understatement’ and there was a beating heart of pop gold. One record to the good, though, it seemed like their lot was filled until ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ came a-knocking at the tail end of last year. Reunion barrel-scraping snottiness aside, who’s to deny these two scruffy-haired young tykes a second shot at becoming the Ant and Dec of Camden Lock? We’ll even forgive them the dodgy loafers in that press shot.
It’s a shame then, given the razzle-dazzle of their matching polyester tracksuits and pricey orchestral arrangements, that ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ just feels so safe. Phoned-in and simplistic, it’s hard to decipher when one track ends and another begins. The moments of massive pomp that made ‘The Age of The Understatement’ such a silly success have largely vanished, replaced instead by a series of mid-tempo attempts at strip-club seduction. ‘Bad Habits’ - a daft cabaret of snotty, out-on-the-town sentiment and comedy ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ – is a highlight, if only for its pantomime call-and-response. Elsewhere, the title track offers a rare moment of tranquillity, and – whisper it – romance among all the rock ‘n’ roll randiness. “I just can’t get the thought of you and him out of my head,” the pair admit in harmony. Maybe they’re singing it at each other.
In fact, the most notable moments of the whole affair are borne of the proudly sleazy lyricism the pair share. “I ain’t got anything to lick without you, baby,” croons Turner on ‘Sweet Dreams, TN’, with all the sexual subtlety of a panda on Viagra. It only gets worse too, ‘The Element Of Surprise’ finding them both jointly declaring the object of their affections should “Let me know when you want your socks knocking off.” Metaphors are for poets though, and these are just two likely, cheeky-chappy, bottle-of-WKD-and-a-packet-of-Wotsits young lads, remember? “Baby, we ought to fuck,” Alex announces at one point, a mind-blowingly secondary school playground chat up line which makes The Game look like the extended works of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Beyond cringe-worthy, it’s like rifling through the 60s wardrobe wasn’t quite enough; for round two Kane and Turner had to dredge up the rampant sexism of the era too. The classical instrumentation isn’t the only relic of the past clinging onto The Last Shadow Puppets, and more often than not, that title is all too literal.