THE ASPIRANT: MILES KANE AND THE FOURTH TIME AROUND

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The Little Flames, The Rascals, Miles Kane, The Last Shadow Puppets… how many chances does one artist need? As the new TLSP album drops, and Kane and Alex Turner are back in town for a sold-out gig at the Olympia, we have a look for what we’ve all been missing. By Alan O’Hare.

It’s nearly eight years since The Last Shadows Puppets released their first record. The Beatles took less time to travel from ‘Please Please Me’ to ‘Let It Be’. Harsh? Perhaps… but Miles Kane is in our face and on our mind and it’s time for some home truths. And not just about that crap TLSP single that recently escaped.

This isn’t about sexism or The Sun, though. Well, we’ll never forget his dalliances with that rag as the promotional campaign for his first solo album started, but, for the record, we think Spin done Kane up like a kipper with the most recent furore. No, this is about music and choices.

Kane’s stink… take your pick, I’m talking about both. We’ll start with the music. The Little Flames got Deltasonic excited for five minutes. But, the fact that the Liverpool label has only released their debut album this year, nine years after it was recorded (around the same time TLSP album campaign started, strangely enough) speaks volumes. We always preferred Eva Petersen, anyway, and her solo stuff has been ten times better than Kane’s… but, we digress.

The Rascals came next and our hero left them behind quicker than you can say ‘the album only went in at number 100’. Once the initial interest peaked, all (five) of the videos were released and the band were left with the uphill struggle of flogging a dead horse, Kane was off barely a year after the group first rehearsed. It’s also worth noting that the sixties-obsessed Kane managed to get the then-hip Ben Hillier to produce ‘Rascalize’ – following the 140dB producer’s then-current successes with Blur (‘Think Tank’), Doves (‘Some Cities’) and Elbow (‘Cast Of Thousands’). Worth noting because of what happened next: the solo years.

Having supported the meat and spuds likes of Beady Eye and Kasabian, surely the no-nonsense front man would go back to the source and knock out a rock ‘n’ roll record of self-penned belters in a few days? Erm, not quite… ‘Colour Of The Trap’ was carefully produced by Dan Carey, Dan the Automator, Craig Silvey and Gruff Rhys. Six of its songs were co-written with his old mate Alex Turner and even Noel Gallagher was persuaded (he’s said some unflattering things about Kane) to sing on a track… called ‘My Fantasy’. Honest. Money well spent? Ask Columbia Records – the singles peaked at 85, 149 and 171 respectively.

We know it’s not all about chart positions. But, as our hero pointed out to Shortlist, as his debut solo album was released: “We need a bit of realism back in the charts – I want to get some rock’n’roll back in there.” Unlucky, then. Kane had tasted chart success with the first TLSP album, but the Wirral chameleon wanted one more bite of the solo cherry before going back cap in hand, so Turner was left to be with his chart-toppers, world tours and LA supermodels. For the time being, at least…

Kane released the ‘First Of My Kind’ EP in 2012 – this time produced by dubstep man of the minute Skream. The title put the ‘mod’ in modest, but unfortunately the music couldn’t be heard above the noise of the trousers worn on the hideous cover shot (Google it, now). That stiffed, too, and was followed by another EP, this time the forgettable ‘Give Up’. We’ll leave that open goal and move on to more recent times…

His second album, ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’, arrived with less fanfare in 2013 and was promisingly produced by Ian Broudie, who assembled a group of solid Scouse musicians to play on the record, recorded (mostly) at Elevator in Liverpool. This time, co-writes dominated and the album featured not one song authored solely by Kane. Paul Weller, XTC’s Andy Partridge, Kid Harpoon and Broudie himself all stepped up to work with Kane on the material and insiders were left with the feeling that the musician rapidly approaching his thirties had a lot to recoup. Especially when the final choice of co-writer was revealed: Guy Chambers. “Rock ‘n’ roll” clearly wasn’t working out for Kane and his sophomore effort sank without trace.

Which brings us up to speed and back to TLSP and Kane’s ‘side project’ with Alex Turner. Let’s be honest, here, and admit that first album, ‘The Age Of The Understatement’, wasn’t that bad. But, their return in 2016, has been anything other than an understatement: garish tracksuits, gold chains and gelled-back hair. The pair of them look like Paulie Walnuts and Silvio Dante, from ‘The Sopranos’, have missed a few chicken parmigiana dinners. The likely lads have become the unlikable pair, too, as recent press interviews have been disasters from start to finish. Turner, and his new LA attitude, haven’t helped Kane here and it’s looking likely that, a handful of sold-out dates aside, TLSP will have run its course at the end of the current campaign.

People aren’t stupid, you see. Music fans know when a songwriter’s heart isn’t in the material and the band are taking the piss: little things like daft costumes, ‘ironic’ jewellery and surly interviews give it away. It may take a little while in these days of instant success and here today, gone this afternoon, but the writing is on the wall (next to the £50 tickets) for Miles Kane. Where will he go when he’s on the outside of the ‘in’ joke, after Turner returns to Arctic Monkeys duties? Rumours abound that Columbia have allegedly dropped him… and even if those rumblings turn out to be false, they’re unlikely to shell out for the likes of Andy Partridge and Guy Chambers again. Perhaps, then, we’ll finally hear from the real Miles Kane and that unique quality he claims to possess will be revealed for all to see. After all, he’s certainly distinct.

Distinctly average.

The Last Shadow Puppets
‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ (Domino)
Out now

Pic by Zachery Michael

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