The Last Shadow Puppets, the collaboration between Miles Kane and Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner, produce a sound not out of place in 60’s spaghetti westerns and on early Scott Walker records.
The Last Shadow Puppets seemed to spring out as a means to distract Turner and Kane from their day jobs of playing in the Arctic Monkeys and the Rascals. Not exactly the most dreadful work in the world, but their side project gave them the chance to work on a different sound, one rarely heard from popular artists since the 1960’s. Their songwriting collaboration was given the luster of vintage-sounding production and orchestral backing.
The lyrics are distinctly their own and would not be out of place in the music of their other projects, but the sound on the two albums that the duo was able to produce, sound like you’ve oddly heard the sound before, but may find hard mentioning where. NME once remarked that the music sounds like Kane and Turner had won the lottery and decided to spend all their money on making a lush Scott Walker tribute album. That’s partly true. The enigmatic Walker is certainly one of the main influences, but there are other sources seeping through the old sound of the modern band.
The Italian composer is one of a handful or artists working on Soundtracks that is known to most fans of music, even if by name alone to most. Although the composer is still working on music today, he’s fame primarily derives from his work on the Spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone. The tense sound heard in those movies is a big influence, especially on the first TLSP album “The Age of the understatement”.
The band has covered “Monnage Daydream” on their recent tour, but the influence of Bowie comes mainly from his early albums before he was Ziggy Stardust, Alladin Sane, or the Thin White Duke. In the beginning, Bowie’s ambitions were mainly to be recognized as a top songwriter. The sound of Scott Walker provided a huge influence on his delivery and subject matter. While it’s generally agreed that Bowie was still finding his feet, the sound of his early records represents an interesting touchstone in his career. It’s a sound that marks a bygone era, one that by default sounds “vintage” when witnessed now. Miles Kane acknowledged the influence those records had on the band on several occasions.
Now, this may not be a group Kane and Turner may have cited, but they remain one of the best examples of where 60’s pop had the audacity to go. The Zombies created some of the densest, well-orchestrated, and sweet-sounding music of that period. While not achieving the same commercial success as contemporaries like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, the sound created by the Zombies is a great reference point for the “baroque pop” sound that Kane and Turner also frequently use.