It’s 16 years since the Avalanches’ era-defining ‘Since I Left You’. How can a follow-up that took so long sound so meh?
The Last Shadow Puppets
The Age Of The Understatement
Their first date is a Morricone Island rollercoaster that gallops into strings, strings and more strings. Strings like they just don’t make anymore, pitched halfway between spaghetti western and ’60s spy flick. Occasionally James Ford’s drums will leap in like he’s shooting injuns off the back of the wagon, then the whole thing will twist on its axis – a stab of viola here, a twang of Shadows guitar there. Into this cinematic brew dives Alex Turner’s peculiar way with words: “There’s affection to rent… Before the attraction ferments/Kiss me properly and pull me apart”. His syllables twist and turn with cadences all of their own. ‘…Understatement’ lies balanced between the unreachable glamour of a bygone age and the very modern flinty melodies of its authors. Unite the two and you’ve got something that’ll have you laughing at the sheer audacity of its vision – it’s so bold it’s a joke. It even began as a joke – two buddies in search of a collaboration, kidding about being Burt Bacharach, being the guy in the polo neck with curls of smoke rising from the ashtray on the grand piano. That we live in an age when our stars are prepared to take a gamble on such fanciful notions is great. That they thoroughly succeed is fantastically fantastic.
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