Two of indie rock's poster boy pin ups return as a unit after eight long years. Not from the wilderness by any means - they've both gone on to scale incredible heights of success following The Last Shadow Puppets' The Age Of Understatement. Whether they've evolved or not, there's no doubt that this shift in sound has been turning into another beast, fuelled by their champagne years and the scorched landscape of the US West Coast.
Opening track ‘Aviation’ shows the band had every intention of starting on a strong foot. With a raucous string opening, it leads you down a rabbit hole into the false pretence that this album is just like the last one.
But that’s not the case. Recorded in the depths of a studio across the pond in Malibu, the rainy day sentiment featured on the duo’s debut has been washed away. Sun drenched guitars and Hank Marvin-esque memorabilia that is all too noticeable in ‘Miracle Aligner’ and ‘Dracula Teeth’, as they take over from the snowy imagery that was imagined on The Age Of Understatement and take us to much warmer climbs.
Though John Travolta was almost definitely not the inspiration behind this album, the imagery of him in his flared jeans and Olivia Newton John in all leather does come to mind. This appreciation of the Yankee culture is evident throughout the entire album, and again, whilst The Age Of The Understatement makes you think of cups of tea and Cilla Black, this album makes you think of a Long Island Ice Tea in a Hunter S. Thompson landscape. Unsurprisingly, title track, 'Everything You've Come To Expect', is a summation of the sound this album follows.
Turner's wordsmithery is as vivid and opulent as ever, where present - as he pines tales of “going home with trouble/ written in dirt on her knees”. Sadly, the one song lacking that “edge” would be ‘Bad Habits’, as it charmlessly sludges along on cavemen rock n'roll autopilot. The opening line to ‘Sweet Dreams, TN’ flows “I feel sick without you baby/ I ain’t got nothing to lick without you baby”, again makes you pine for more of Turner's lyrical charm throughout the record.
The lulls however are few, as moments such as ‘The Element Of Surprise’, do exactly what they say on the tin. Whilst the album’s sound of overproduced guitars and lavish string arrangements becomes tiring very quickly, their playful sense of rhythm keeps the album dancing on its toes. Simply speaking, this album focuses on the light hearted, but then from ‘Used To Be My Girl’ onwards everything slips into minor. A disjointed string arrangement ensues, leaning towards an unashamedly James Bond reference from thereon.
‘She Does The Woods’ appreciates the transatlantic nature of the band and pure, hedonistic drive. Their first album, at times, took you to a lock-in in a pub in the north of England, whilst this second album sees you driving frantically to Las Vegas in hope of making last orders.
This exerted alertness comes to the fore in penultimate track ‘Pattern’ as no time is wasted and the track starts by leading straight from ‘She Does the Woods’. Again, this kind of wannabe James Bond soundtrack sound is exhibited and rejoiced with no holding back.
Closing track, ‘The Dream Synopsis’, is classic Turner - a not-too-distant cousin to ‘Piledriver Waltz’ from the now seminal Suck It And See. Which is not to say it’s not a good song, it just feels a tad recycled, and leans towards the notion that far more of Turner's spirit is on this record than Kane's perhaps. It works though, and as the saying goes, if it’s not broke don’t fix it, which is something Kane and Turner both clearly followed during the making of this album. Nothing is broken, albeit just tweeked with less homegrown charm and souped up with more of that exotic flare. Or as Turner might say, 'that rock n' roll, eh?'