A dose of unresolved nostalgia therapy from Miles Kane
Considering that it took the ex-Rascals front-man only two years to follow The Colour of the Trap
(2011) with Don’t Forget Who You Are
(2013), five years is a notably large gap for Miles Kane. He has spent little time procrastinating, however, with a second album and world tour with The Last Shadow Puppets under his belt in 2016 and 2017 before Alex Turner announced that plans were in the pipeline for the Arctic Monkeys. Contrary to the almost volatilely anticipated follow up to AM
(2013), the build-up and campaign for Miles
’ latest solo effort could be described as understated and even humble, with the man himself somewhat playing down his own success as simply ‘not on the level’ (RadioX, 2018) as that of his closest affiliate. It was almost as if he had set out to reduce expectations.
This may explain why a sense of melancholia lies omnipresent in Coup de Grace
(2018), as part of what feels like a complete rebirth for Miles Kane. The album’s lead single, 'Loaded', in accordance to also being the first to feature explicit language, portrays a more neurotic and washed up version in strike contrast to Miles’ hubristic old self. Out go the Paul Weller haircuts, the Vespas in the foreground of Margate pier and in comes the more generic leather jackets and nighttime carousels; replacing the Quadrophenia fetish which with age, perhaps now fails to touch the spot. Instead (as the video for 'Loaded' video literally shows) Miles dances from states of nostalgia and romanticism, maybe as a commemoration of ventures which have now grown beyond what he can offer. The sense of tenderness emitted from Lana Del Rey’s notable backing vocals in the chorus perhaps captures this mood best.
What plays into this narrative, is also Miles' plunge into the grooves and burnt melodies of 70s glam rock. The pleasures of 'Cry on My Guitar' are both characteristics of his approach in confidently leaning on clichés but also being slightly self-effacing; leaning on the style of Gary Glitter who could not be more far-removed from Miles' sacredly realist blueprint. This grit is still to an extent retained through the punk-rock numbers of 'Too Little Too Late', 'Cold Light of the Day', but the raw qualities find themselves overawed by the posturing of a more refined sound; tighter drums, lo-fi produced guitar layers (mirroring The Black Keys) and the more prevalent crooner inspired tones in his vocal projection.
This framework, however, actually offers the more psychedelic and lairy elements of his debut album a new voice that works in his favour. This is encapsulated best no none other than the title track, 'Coup de Grace', which one could cite as a product of the perfect balance between psychedelic rock and French house (not all that dissimilar to Jamiroquai’s A Funk Odyssey
(2001)). It is these more left-field aspects which on the whole, allow the album to come into its own and offers Miles some substantial distinction and breathing space from the everlasting comparisons with Alex Turner. 'Shavambacu' is successful in this regard through the creative meandering of ragtime piano, filtered drum-fills and space-odyssey clad guitar arpeggios; boosted also by its topical nature which, presumably on the subject of an experience with a French girl (hence "I made it up from a dream I had, my French is bad, some say 'Je t'aime beaucoup' "), acts in loose character with the underlying romantic theme.
'Killing The Joke', carried by guitar phasers and humming ambience, again transmits this rose-tinted semblance to sustain a feeling of comfort whilst retaining the impression that Miles Kane, in sporadic phases, is actively trying to subtlety conceal himself when in a state deep reflection. The use of lo-fi synths, almost mirroring the greatest shoegaze works of The Horrors, is something to behold and captures a true sense of aesthetic purity; a point which Miles has never really reached. Regrettably, however, when placed amongst the strained 'Silverscreen' and 'Something To Rely On', the album overall is patchy and places the listener into the confusing position of not knowing whether its appeals are refreshing, or actually rather stale.
Listen to Miles Kane 'Coup de Grace' in full below