Coup De Grace by Miles Kane – Album Review
By David Schuster
Miles Kane is a collaborator. That’s not a statement about his politics, rather he is a musician who works well with other musicians. In effect, that’s what The Last Shadow Puppets continue to be; an ongoing collaboration between Kane and Alex Turner of The Arctic Monkeys.
That spirit of collaboration is writ large across his latest solo album, Coup De Grace and to be honest why wouldn’t he, when he’s got friends whose talents complement his? If Wikipedia is to be believed (not always the case, I’ll grant you) then Jamie T is credited with helping to write no less than seven of the ten tracks on this latest release.
The album opens with one such collaboration, ‘Too Little Too Late’. With its fast, simple drum beat overlaid with high speed guitar and frenetic vocals it could easily have appeared on Jamie T’s 2014 release Carry On The Grudge. It’s important to say at this juncture that this isn’t a criticism, rather I think it’s the point. Why work with other people if you’re not going to let their influence shine through?
“Glam rock revival”
The second track, ‘Cry On My Guitar’, is something different entirely. It’s a full-on homage to 70’s glam rock. There’s even an overt reference to spandex clad rockers The Sweet in the lyrics, “Stop me on the avenue, cuffs on my wrists. Told me I was driving like a ballroom blitz”. This was released as a single and, given its catchy radio-friendly chorus, I’m surprised that it’s not had more airplay. We are overdue a glam-rock revival.
Lana Del Ray contributed the chorus to ‘Loaded’, which is the only thing out of their recording time together to make it onto the record. Kane has said that they produced lots more fantastic stuff together, but that it just didn’t fit with the overall feel. I like that approach; an album should be a collection of songs creating a balanced whole. Sometimes what you leave out is as important as what you put in.
Weirdly the weakest number on Coup De Grace is the title track. This is in such direct opposition to the normal practice of naming the disc after the strongest song that I may be missing something.
The record ends with ‘Shavambacu’, an appealing enigma. It starts out slow and sinister, twanging echoey guitar over Adam’s Family-style finger clicks, with lyrics to match: “Ghost eyes fall upon my baby doll. Ghost eyes love to watch me too”. The pace and tone then lift into a comic chorus, where it’s revealed that this all happened in a dream: “I made it up in a dream I had. My French is bad. Some say, “Je t’aime beaucoup”. I say, “Shavambacu”. I love that. It made me smile, a lot.
Unlike his last release, Don’t Forget Who You Are, this didn’t instantly engage me, rather it rewards repeated listening, as you come to appreciate the clever musicianship, subtly ironic lyrics and expert production on it. For that reason, it took me longer to start writing this review than I’d normally take before committing my thoughts to paper (pixels).
That said, Coup De Grace is a great album. I’d like to see more artists working with each other to create something unique and different to their own natural style. However, that requires the musicians involved to have the self-assurance and lack of ego to let each other get on and do their thing, confident in the outcome. That’s not always the case in the music industry. Vive les collaborateurs!