With the Last Shadow Puppets, Arctic Monkeys singer Alex Turner and singer/songwriter Miles Kane, garnered well-earned Scott Walker and David Bowie comparisons, as well as a Mercury Prize nomination for their 2008 debut, The Age of the Understatement. A broodingly realized, highly orchestral production, the album wowed fans of '60s Baroque pop and '70s spaghetti western soundtracks. Eight years later, the duo are back with their similarly atmospheric, wicked-tongued sophomore album, 2016's Everything You've Come to Expect. The duo recorded the album after Arctic Monkeys went on hiatus in 2014 leaving Turner at loose ends in his adopted home of Los Angeles. While both Turner and Kane have stockpiled accolades on their own, there is definitely a dark, creative menace that ignites when they collaborate. Best buds since their bands toured together in the early 2000s, Turner and Kane often appear as debonair lounge lizards, mad lads on the loose with talent and charisma to spare -- or to toss off like half-spent cigarettes. Which is to say, they make writing catchy, literate songs sound easy. Not too many people can fit the term, "Sectoral Heterochromia" into a pop song like the Last Shadow Puppets do so deftly on the sparkling, dark-hued "Aviation." In fact, whether it's a "spirograph of branches that dance on the breeze," in "She Does the Woods," or their cheeky summation of one woman's je ne sais quoi as "the first day of spring with a septum piercing," on "Sweet Dreams, TN," the album is fecund with the duo's knack for poetic turns of phrase; their "enthusiasm paraphernalia" as they call it on "Dracula Teeth."
The lyrics, devilishly wedded to their echo-chamber-laden arrangements and sneering Bowie-esque croons, play like coded spells set to music. Part of the Last Shadow Puppets pop magic is the wry sense of humor that keeps their obsessions (namely femme fatales and the things men do to get over them) from ever getting too self-serious. As they sing on the sinister punk mariachi groover, "Bad Habits," "Should have known little girl that you'd do me wrong." Utterly infectious and rife with sexual desire, the track stands out as one of most aggressive and unforgettable on the album. Ultimately, Everything You've Come to Expect plays like a west coast film noir fever dream, scored by Ennio Morricone, with Kane and Turner the doomed protagonists, chasing icy blondes and lollipop Lolitas down their own debauched Hitchcock-ian spiral. As they sing on "Bad Habits," "Deep trouble...delicious."