100 for 2000 – #82. The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of the Understatement

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2008 – #2. The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of the Understatement
(Domino)

Alex Turner really is the second coming of Jay Farrar. A young, dour, serious but poetic man, who has managed to make 4 albums in 4 years (much tougher now than it was in the early 90s). That Turner also did it from the top of the mountain only makes this feat more impressive. And like Farrar‘s Uncle Tupelo, whose third record smashed expectations on what that band could do, so too does Turner make an about face on his third outing. He’s made a classic orchestral pop record in the vein of Bacharach or Scott Walker.

Of course, Turner is not alone here. His pal Miles Kane is an equal partner, and their love of this era of music pours through. And they update the template. The high drama of say, Dusty Springfield, is added to with the odd well placed jagged guitar chord and rock ‘n’ roll drums. It never sounds like it’s lost in time – it’s a modern record.

Yet it’s a million miles away from Arctic Monkeys (or Kane‘s band, the Rascals). The live gigs, at the Roundhouse and Royal Albert Hall, with full orchestra, were sights to behold. Two young men in suits, holding court in such prestigious venues, huge orchestrations and singing their wee northern hearts out.

So, the gimmick is great, and captivating. But there is also a turn in the songwriting. Two new weapons are now in Turner’s arsenal – beauty and mystery. Leaving behind the quick-fire spell-it-all-out of the monkeys behind, and let loose on classic melodies and chord progressions – this is not just an orchestra singing about Arctic Monkey type things.

And it’s all about women. The drama of them. Of love and young love in particular. Words unsaid. Hidden feelings. It’s a dark, noir world. Beautiful but unhinged women, tough men with mortal hearts. It all comes together in Turner’s best ballad to date – My Mistakes Were Made For You. The trippy film clip and the holes in the lyric all help paint this picture.

This album was released at the start of 2008 and sustained me through the year. I loved it and listened to it a lot. By the end of the year, I came back to it. Those regrets, that it-was-not-to-be attitude of the love songs, or anti-love songs, drew me in. By the time I got to the last two tracks – the lovers troubled farewell of Meeting Place, and the one-last-look-back of Time Has Come Again – well, I’m a mess.

It’s just amazing this album exists, and it got to number one. NME kids listening to such Bacharach-ian pastiches like Meeting Place? Brilliant. What balls these young men have. And for it to be so brilliant. So classic, yet so new. I guess the future of this side project is in doubt. But that mystery and beauty survived to the next Arctic Monkeys record, and for me, the story continues…

The amazing clip for My Mistakes Were Made For You, directed by Moss from the IT Crowd!

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