Miles Kane ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ – Review

12 Jun

Miles Kane is a Last Shadow Puppet. He co-wrote ‘Age of the Understatement’, a fantastic record that stands up five years on. I doubt anyone’s forgotten this (although I’m sure Miles would like you to forget and take this new album on its own terms) but I feel like reminding myself. That was nuanced record that avoided cliche, let alone parody. His earlier work with The Rascals and Little Flames was perky but insubstantial, certainly not bad though. His solo debut was also pretty decent, at times downright brilliant. Again, I just want to remind myself of that. This guy knows how to pen a good song… doesn’t he?

It’s just that ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ is undeniably a damp squib. A big, soaking, useless squib. Miles has He’s made a big deal of ditching the metaphors that have coloured his best writing, calling ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ direct and to the point. Direct is certainly one adjective you could use to describe it, but ‘obvious’ is the one I would use. On the catchy but forgettable ‘Better Than That’ Miles tells us he’s happy and it’s down to a four letter word. Ok, fair enough. Then he says he means ‘L.O.V.E’. Yeah, we get it Miles, no need to literally spell it out. But in case the message isn’t clear enough he then yells ‘I’m talking about love!’ It’s this kind of pandering, colour-by-numbers lyricism that makes ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ such a joyless listen. It’s wholly uncharicteristic of the painterly, detailed lyrics that won him acclaim a few years back. By the time you hear him repeat ‘Give up’ for the twelfth time in his droning scouse accent you’ll be wishing he’d follow his own advice.

It’s not just the lyrics that are obvious. The riffs are stone cold stupid, his voice is increasingly Gallagher-esque, and the arrangements lack any spark of originality. His horn soaked collaboration with Skream, ‘First of My Kind’, released last year hinted that the second album would move things on nicely from the debut, but there is none of that innovation or ambition here (and ‘First of My Kind is reduced to a lowly bonus track on the expensive deluxe edition). That said, there are highlights scattered across the thankfully brief running time, including the dizzy title track, the Oasis humping ‘Out of Control’ and the supremely confident ‘Taking Over’. Kane relies on predictable structures, predictable chords, predictable themes and predictable swagger but he does it all with absolute sincerity and forthright purpose. It’s never a dreary listen and at times the glam stomp and throwback  riffs put a smile on your face. It’s impossible to dislike him, you just end up feeling a little let down.

‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ isn’t just a disappointing record, it’s the type of record that is so out-there disappointing it makes you question everything the artist has ever done. It makes you think ‘was his other stuff really as good as I remember? Have my listening tastes changed or something? Or is it Miles that has changed?’ I’ve always dismissed the cynics who pointed out that Kane had yet to write a classic on his own without a songwriting partner, but there’s got to be something in that.  Alex Turner co-wrote the Last Shadow Puppets album and all the best songs on his solo debut – is that a coincidence? I hate to say it, but I don’t think so. Miles Kane is a talented lad but he has to do better than this if he wants to be considered a credible artist in his own right. At the moment he’s just gone about two steps back into the shadow of a certain Shadow Puppet.




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