Story of the song: The age of the understatement, The Last Shadow Puppets (2008)

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The Independent Culture

The Arctic Monkeys' frontman, Alex Turner, and the guitarist Miles Kane, from The Rascals, bonded over Scott Walker.

Turner and Kane, both 22, had developed a fondness for the singer's Sixties output. "We had that Scott Walker Sings Jacques Brel album," recalled Turner. "One afternoon we were talking about 'Jackie' and saying, 'Imagine doing that, wouldn't it be good to do a song like that?'" But Walker's anglicisation of the Brel classic had been covered by Marc Almond and The Divine Comedy: "Jackie" was a no go. "Andy Bell from Oasis said we should cover 'We Came Through'," said Kane, recalling Walker's life-affirming melodrama from 1969. But the two musicians were bristling with ideas of their own.

When Kane guested on the Arctic Monkeys' second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, enthusiasm overtook the duo, prompting Turner to take a sabbatical from his band to write with his friend. In the late summer of 2007, releasing an announcement to the music press, they went to France to lay tracks for an album,with James Ford from Simian Mobile Disco, plus a documentary film crew. Ford produced and played drums. Wally Stott's string arrangement for Walker's "We Came Through", which is taken at a breakneck gallop, stuck with them for the key track, the puzzlingly titled "The Age of the Understatement". "We did notice that the songs we were enjoying did have really interesting string parts," said Ford.

Back home, the services of the London Metropolitan Orchestra were secured and Canadian composer Owen Pallett was seconded to score some beefy strings. In February 2008, the duo christened their collaboration The Last Shadow Puppets and "The Age of the Understatement" was issued as a single, making the Top 10. A curious femme fatale tale about a "relentless marauder", it's arguably their standout moment, a relentless, pounding maelstrom of flattened vowels and bent-back whammy bars. The widescreen production comes straight from composers such as John Barry and David Axelrod, both favourites of Turner and Kane: "It makes you feel like ... I dunno, it's cinematic, isn't it?"

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