From ‘The Age of The Understatement’ to the era of matching velour tracksuits, a lot of water has passed under the bridge between The Last Shadow Puppets’ 2008 debut and this long-awaited follow-up. Alex Turner has swapped Sheffield for LA and youthful recalcitrance for “that rock’n’roll”, while Miles Kane is no longer just Turner’s plus-one but an indie-rock playboy with a sizeable fanbase of his own. A second Shadow Puppets record always felt inevitable, given how inseparable the pair are (Kane has even followed Turner to California) but the real question was what that album might sound like after eight years on the back-burner.
Unlike their debut, ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ isn’t fixated on the ’60s baroque-pop of Scott Walker and David Axelrod, although a different vibe and era – ’70s soft-rock and blue-eyed soul – does prevail in places. Opening track ‘Aviation’ may be the closest they come to sounding like their former selves – it’s the “Puppety tune” that convinced them to reprise the project – although we don’t recall them ever being so forward as Kane’s reptilian come-on of “It’s your decision, honey/ My planet or yours?”. The lounge-lizard act – which, judging by Kane’s behaviour during a recent Spin interview, isn’t confined to the music – feels especially self-parodic on lead single ‘Bad Habits’, although it’s redeemed by Owen Pallett’s sweeping, cinematic string arrangements (once again, the Canadian composer is the Shadow Puppets’ unsung hero).
In any case, the standout moments tend to be the softer, sweeter ones, with Turner putting that sardonic croon to good use on ‘Sweet Dreams, TN’ and the surreal ‘The Dream Synopsis’, while the honeyed soul-pop of ‘Miracle Aligner’ and ‘The Element Of Surprise’ sound custom-made for sunset cruises along the Pacific Coast Highway. These days, Turner and Kane are a far cry from the doe-eyed 22-year-olds who made ‘The Age Of The Understatement’, but as a partnership they continue to provoke intriguing responses from each other, with Kane upping his game significantly from his last solo record and Turner seemingly less inclined to couch himself in irony. This album isn’t quite what we’ve come to expect from The Last Shadow Puppets, but that’s just how we like it.