For those complaining that the recent Arctic Monkeys album is too weird, look no further than the new release from Miles Kane. Even after five solo albums, the well connected Birkenhead musician is best known for his friendship with Alex Turner, with whom he made two sophisticatedly retro albums as The Last Shadow Puppets in 2008 and 2016. While Turner’s musical utterances within Arctic Monkeys have become increasingly gnomic, Kane is going backwards on his latest work, returning to an energetic indie jangle that recalls his earliest material.
Aside from being Jonathan Wilkes to Turner’s Robbie Williams, Kane has popped up in other surprising places recently. In 2021 he sang and co-wrote Dealer, a duet with Lana Del Rey on her Blue Banisters album. The year before, he made a covers album with The Jaded Hearts Club, a supergroup also containing Matt Bellamy of Muse and Graham Coxon of Blur. Here the 37-year-old sometime LA resident is back to his roots, recording in Liverpool’s Kempston Street Studios with James Skelly of The Coral (who is also his cousin) producing. Other northern indie musicians involved include Ian Skelly (also his cousin) on drums, Keiran Shudall from Liverpool band Circa Waves, and from the other side of the M6, Tom Ogden of Blossoms.
The result is a set of straight down the middle, Sixties-leaning rock and roll songs. The album’s more eccentric predecessor Change the Show, from just 18 months ago, did interesting things with piano and horns. This one is all about the guitars. There’s a mean rumble to The Best is Yet to Come, which finds Kane describing himself as though submitting his CV for the position of chief sleazy rock ‘n’ roller: “I’m like a freak show/Double denim, walking slow.” Never Taking Me Alive is raw and shouty, Kane playing the gangster over a tumbling drum beat.
On Heartbreaks (The New Sensation) he channels the casual slinkiness of Marc Bolan, and when things quieten down on the acoustic ballad Scared of Love, his voice has a bit of John Lennon about it. The most fun to be had is on Baggio, a sprightly, catchy one that takes the time machine forwards all the way to 1994, to reminisce about the talent of Italian football hero Roberto Baggio.
After all those starry collaborations, he sounds at home in his comfort zone, making up in volume what he lacks in adventure.