Joe Carnall and Matt Helders – ‘Good Cop Bad Cop’ review

Milburn frontman Joe Carnall teams up with Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders for a retro-futuristic pop record that signals a new chapter for each artist

Milburn’s take on noughties indie and kitchen sink melodrama didn’t set the world alight in quite the same way as Arctic Monkeys – a tall order – but there was a fire and connection between them and their fans; it’s not for nothing that the band enjoyed a reunion tour and comeback record back in 2016.

If it was frontman Joe Carnall’s take on love, loss and growing up that kept fans invested, then Good Cop Bad Cop is probably the mature record they’ve been waiting for. Having placed Sheffield cohort Matt Helders on production duties (his other extracurricular activity aside from photography, opening a cafe, forming a band with Iggy Pop and working on a solo record), Carnall’s new creature with the Monkeys’ sticksman is quite the evolved beast from their scratchy garage rock beginnings.

You see, life is hard when you’re not winning,” pines Carnall on the opening track, with Helders’ trademark falsetto backing. They’re in a pensive mood, with a spacey-organ-soaked sound more akin with that of ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ than the usual messy nights down The Leadmill. They’re weighing up life, and looking to the stars. There’s a shimmering, electro-rock sheen to ‘Silk And Leather’ and ‘Landline’, one that evokes thoughts of Mini Mansions, and the bold 1980’s synth-pop of earworm ‘Sharp Shooter’ feels like a nod to their Sheffield forefathers The Human League. ‘Boss Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’ do best to bookend the cinematic sci-fi tone. Alas, it’s laid on a little thick, and at times succumbs to feeling just a bit naff.

You’d be forgiven for mistaking closer ‘End Of The Beginning’ for a latter-day Strokes song, though its retro-futuristic soundtrack feel does a good job of combining Helders’ and Carnall’s teenage inspiration and current preoccupations, while confidently signalling what feels like a new chapter for both artists.