On ‘Change The Show’ Miles Kane has redirected his ambitions. Just before the release of 2018’s sharp and spiky third album ‘Coup De Grace’, the Last Shadow Puppet and former Rascals frontman flipped the script; he left LA – having not played a single US headline gig across three records – for east London in search of something more grounded and stable. He reflects on this major life change on album four, with ruminative, lightly experimental songs that seem to be searching for answers.
The main claim for progression on ‘Change The Show’ is that there’s a lot going on. A spoken-word section from Lily Savage (comedian Paul O’Grady’s former drag persona) kicks off ‘Don’t Let It Get You Down’, and soon enough, a flurry of hip-shaking percussion rises like a tornado in slow motion, promising a build into a much-needed release. Then, swerving the opposite way, it pales back to a series of subdued group harmonies. It’s almost as though Kane is dangling the carrot, teasing some sort of breakthrough moment that never arrives.
There’s no shame in concise tunes that bop likably along to big choruses and positive affirmations (here, Kane is “only looking for solutions”), but this is music driven by personality rather than innovation. Similarly, ‘See Ya When I See Ya’ is the type of catchy indie stomper that Kane is a master at – but 11 years into his solo career, it all sounds a bit too familiar.
That said, where his vocals used to sometimes snarl in circles, Kane has now found a warmth to the rougher edges. After delivering a stellar performance on ‘Dealer’ – the standout from Lana Del Rey’s most recent LP, ‘Blue Banisters’ – he sounds similarly assured on the soulful, horn-assisted ‘Caroline’. Corinne Bailey Rae team-up ‘Nothing’s Ever Gonna Be Good Enough’ is confident and nimble, embracing smoky and understated pop flourishes with big band-inspired melodies and a flirty touch. The unashamedly retro ‘Never Get Tired Of Dancing’, meanwhile, is a burst of incisive baroque pop.
Much of the album looks inward. There are songs that hint at how fame may have warped Kane’s relationship with himself and others, with references to self-help (‘Tears Are Falling’), and moving forward (‘Coming Of Age’), muddied by a frustrating opacity. The latter’s opening lines, for example, are more likely to raise a shrug of the shoulders than inspire empathy: “Now Suzie’s in my messages but I’ve got nothing to say / Maybe I’m just coming of age”.
When Kane rises above that tentativeness, as with the rousing and charismatic title track, the effect is engaging. But for the most part, this solid but unchallenging album is a step towards nowhere in particular.
Release date: January 21
Record label: BMG