Grace, guile and grandeur are not words one would associate with Alex Turner or his music, but all three apply to the Last Shadow Puppets. Perhaps the Rascals’ Miles Kane, Turner’s partner in this indie supergroup, has brought the best out in him. In any case, it’s hard to believe that ‘The Age of the Understatement’ is the work of the same surly sod responsible for “Fake Tales of San Francisco”.
What absolutely makes this album is the addition of the 22-piece London Metropolitan Orchestra. The string arrangements elevate it above typical Monkeys/Rascals fare to something approaching the drama and humanity of Scott Walker or Love. Over galloping spaghetti western rhythms, Turner’s voice – used for singing, not drawling – intertwines elegantly with Kane’s, and the wordplay is a cut above the neo-Formbyisms of the Monkeys. In the first minute "order" and "marauder" are rhymed and there’s vivid talk of feather boas and toffee drops.
It has its meandering moments where you wonder whether you’re actually hearing studio warm-ups, out-takes and doodles, but it wraps up nicely with the ghostly, echo-laden hidden track at the end.