Just about the busiest man in showbiz, Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner is back with a brand spanking new album. Not content with winning every award under the sun last month, Turner has formed a new band with little-known indie mate Miles Kane, frontman for Scouse rockers The Rascals. They’re called The Last Shadow Puppets, the album’s out in April, and it’s set to be quite an event.
Turner and Kane got pally when the Monkeys toured with the latter’s old group, The Little Flames. Kane then added some extra guitar to the now gong-laden album ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’, and the pair began cranking out songs. Turner in particular sounds rather enamoured with the collaborative process.
“The fact that we were writing together seems to make it stronger,” he says. “You’re not as exposed as you are if it’s just you on your own. I do like the partnership thing.”
Kane agrees: “It’s not a chore, it’s enjoyment. It’s great finding that with someone else, a dead good friend.”
The resulting record, ‘The Age Of The Understatement’, is culled from more esoteric influences than Turner’s usual output, notably David Bowie, enigmatic crooner Scott Walker and psychedelic Sixties producer David Axelrod. Simian Mobile Disco chap James Ford is still on board as producer though, after his sterling work on that last Monkeys LP, and also plays drums. Meanwhile they also drafted in the London Metropolitan Orchestra to add a bevy of strings, with casual acquaintance Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy conducting.
“He was a bit nervous – he’s young and hadn’t done something like this before – but that added to the record,” explains Turner. “I think the strings are terrific, they’ve really brought the songs to life.”
They had a more profound effect on Kane: “‘I walked into the studio when they were doing ‘Meeting Place’ – this little song you’ve written in your bedroom is being played by an orchestra! I went cold.”
“It’s a dangerous game,” admits Turner, “we could have almost ruined it if it all got too lush.”
Instead, their debut single – album title track ‘The Age Of The Understatement’ – is overblown in all the right ways; a gloriously rollicking Morricone pastiche, replete with drums like thundering hooves and an expensive looking video involving lots of eastern European tanks. They may be a side project, but The Last Shadow Puppets are clearly a serious proposition.