Alex Turner and a pal Monkey around with orchestral pop
Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner has dreamed up an improbable side project with fellow 22-year-old Miles Kane (of Brit band The Rascals), featuring youthful takes on the melodramatic ’60s pop once proffered by Shirley Bassey, Anthony Newley and James Bond composer John Barry. Composed by the little-known Owen Pallett, production numbers like sultry tune “The Chamber,” Brecht-Weill-style drinking song “Calm Like You” and the over-the-top title track come across with the playfully surreal grandiosity and twisted charm of 2007’s The Good, the Bad and the Queen, Damon Albarn’s project with similarly string-crazed trickster Danger Mouse. (My suspicion is that Pallett is Danger Mouse, and that Kane is Turner.) This record is not for everybody—including, I suspect, the majority of Arctic Monkeys fans. Nonetheless, Turner deserves props for unleashing his inner Bowie and embracing artifice with such nerve and verve.