Preliminary note: Imagine my shock when I woke up to find out I’ve got the top 2 on Blog Machine. Go me!
The first Arctic Monkeys album was an extraordinary burst of power-pop with acidly wicked lyrics and fist-to-the-face hooks that I kept in active rotation for about a year. The second Arctic Monkeys album was a cleaner burst of power-pop with occasionally sad lyrics and fist-to-the-gut hooks that I kept in active rotation for about six months. So, when I saw a used copy of The Last Shadow Puppets at my favorite CD store, I wondered if it was worth the $8.99.
Alex (Arctic Monkeys) Turner and Miles (The Rascals, The Little Flames) Kane have teamed up to create 12 jubilant gems of classic-sounding rock and roll, far better than anything they were ever able to write before. Although it’s got the “Let’s Dance” era Bowie sound of “Standing Next To Me,” much of the record is spent showing Amy Winehouse how to write her second album, on dark soul songs like “The Time Has Come Again” and “The Chamber.” It’s great to hear Turner using his voice on this kind of music, and it’s doubly great to hear the band move the retro-soul genre forward. “Black Plant,” for example, creeps forward but turns it on its head halfway through, turning into what sounds like a James Bond theme. I love Amy, but let’s face it: Back To Black got old fast, and all you listened to were about five songs on the record. Another favorite cut here is “Only The Truth,” they’re gutsy enough to add strings to
make a 1960’s Leader of the Pack kinda oldie, with a chilling, dark sound, and a garage-band percussive chorus. It’s a complex song, with a dramatic time change for the final act, that belongs in a John Waters movie. Or a Broadway stage, backing the slaying of a virgin in white powder by an overacting transvestite.
Turner could easily have coasted on his fame here, and tossed off a genre record without much underneath it. But he didn’t. The Age Of The Understatement is easily one of the best records of the year.
You Know I’m No Good (Amy Winehouse cover)-Arctic Monkeys
Take It Or Leave It (Strokes cover)–Arctic Monkeys
And to all comic geeks: Go Get Marvel Apes! It’s Super Cool!