by DAVY WASHINGTON
“Everything You’ve Come To Expect (Deluxe Edition)” is The Last Shadow Puppet’s most recent album, which was released in Dec. 2016. The lead singer, Alex Turner, created the group as a side project from Arctic Monkeys—an effort to try out new sounds and types of music with Miles Kane, former frontman of the Rascals. The songs on this album are dreamy and romantic, with many of the songs following an intimate relationship between the singer and a woman—presumably the one on the cover of the album. There’s also a wide variety in the styles of songs on the album, such as “Les Cactus” sung entirely in French and “Sweet Dreams, TN” being a rock-ballad of sorts with an orchestra backing the main guitar, drum and bass, which is something that comes up often in this album. Additionally, the album includes a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Is This What You Wanted” with a diaphanous twist using the piano, violin and guitar to step out from the original song’s country style.
It’s been over six years since the album was released, and even though I’ve been listening to it for a while, it’s always a fresh experience to revisit it and listen to it with friends. It’s also a ton of fun to pick up my guitar or bass to learn some of the parts to my favorite songs on the album.
Something that was particularly enticing to me was the addition of orchestra and occasional brass accompaniment. I’ve heard this with other groups before, such as Dexys Midnight Runners and Hippocampus, and it works to create a dynamic that creates complex sounds in their music. With “Everything You’ve Come To Expect” for example, the addition of instruments such as the violin, viola and cello on certain songs give for a more cinematic listening experience.
The first song that immediately stands out to me is “Used To Be My Girl.” The track opens with a groovy guitar, drum and tambourine rhythm that puts me right into a bopping trance. The song touches on a relationship gone wrong where the singer blames himself for the breakup, but who hasn’t been there? With lines like “Don’t make no mistake, I’m a liar, I’m a cheat, a leech, a thief,” the singer makes himself out to be the villain of the relationship, but he later sings about how they’ve both grown bitter about how things ended.
The song that precedes “Used To Be My Girl” is “Sweet Dreams, TN,” a very coming-of-age song that is perfect for blasting as you cruise down the highway. The powerful vocals in this song make for such a moving listening experience. Turner has a well-rounded range that helps him tremendously in making this dramatic song so hard hitting, and it has been cemented as a staple of the group, with it being their second-most-listened-to song on the album.
“Miracle Aligner” is the band’s most popular song on Spotify, and it comes with extremely dreamy aesthetics in addition to a pretty yet abstract music video. The twangy electric guitar separating the chorus and verses creates such a lively flow, almost like that of an old western movie. Furthermore, the sounds of the violins in the background add resonant harmonies during the bridge that complete the vibe of the song and stick with the orchestral accompaniment and relationship motif explored across the album.
Two of my favorite songs from the album, “Is This What You Wanted” and “The Dream Synopsis,” contain ethereal aesthetics. The album features an acoustic cover of “The Dream Synopsis” that slows the song down and adds a smooth saxophone to give it more of a slow-dance-kind of vibe. “Is This What You Wanted” is the Leonard Cohen cover, and Turner and Kane took a more grandiose approach with the song. The lyrics and meaning of the song are focused around a now-lost love, and they fit into the theme of the majority of the songs on the album. The tagline of the song, “Is this what you wanted, to live in a house that is haunted, by the ghost of you and me?,” while metaphorical, speaks to a large audience of people who’ve gone through heartbreak and can relate to the feelings of longing, nostalgia and all of the other emotions that come along with remembering the past.