All right, the time has come for this review: I've listened to the new album approximately 4,516,784 times. (Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but I'm sure Bryan would agree with the sentiment. Poor guy.) I've had time to let it sink in, study the lyrics like it was my job, and compare it to the 2008 album The Age of the Understatement.
That comparison between the two albums is no easy task. They're completely different animals. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's astounding to realize how much has changed in the past 8 years for these artists.
The title track is my absolute favorite song on here, closely followed by the wonderfully weird "Dracula Teeth" and the could've-been-ripped-from-Suck-It-and-See "Miracle Aligner." The three songs have been stuck in my head on a pretty regular rotation since the first time I listened. "The Element of Surprise" is a song that makes me want to be a better writer - it features some of the most clever lyrics I've ever heard. Some highlights:
- "There's a set of rickety stairs / In between my heart and my head / And there ain't much that ever bothers going up them."
- "Why colour in the lines if you're just painting it black?"
- "I thought they were kisses but apparently not / Do you end all your messages with an 'X marks the spot'?"
...I get jealous just typing those up. I wish I'd thought of them first.
Unlike The Age of the Understatement, though, there are some dull spots on the album: I never really register that "Used to Be My Girl" and "She Does the Woods" are two different songs, because neither one grabs my attention. Then there's "Bad Habits," which is easily the worst song on the record. By far. I'm not one to skip tracks as I listen to albums, because I like to hear how artists weave their overall stories, but in this case, I'm tempted to do it every time that song comes on. You could even guess it's a clunker just by looking at it on the page: it has half the lyrics of any other songs on the album, and is populated instead by over-the-top, stereotypical-rock-star "oohs" and "yeahs." I'm cringing just thinking about it. The best part about it is that it's pretty short, so it doesn't completely cloud my view of the rest of the album.
At the end of the day, I think the biggest takeaway from this album is that it is most definitely Alex Turner's side project. The Age of the Understatement was very much a dual effort between Turner and Miles Kane, and it comes across as a carefully-crafted masterpiece of a debut. Everything You've Come to Expect is much less balanced; Kane may have suggested a few lines here and there, but the bulk of the writing has Turner's fingerprints all over it. This is definitely a fun album to listen to, but it's definitely not what I was expecting as an Age of the Understatement follow-up.
(Sorry. Couldn't resist the cheese. They made it so easy. An apology video.)