When Miles Kane absconded from his day band The Rascals to knock out the scintillating Bacharach update that was the Last Shadow Puppets album with Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, he clearly found his niche. For this, his solo debut, Kane carves for himself a position as one of alternative pop’s prime retro-visionists as firmly as Brian Cox has cemented his role as the universe’s smiliest harbinger of doom. Not since The Bees’ A Minha Menina has 1960s psych-soul sounded so fresh; authentically swathed in Tornados twangs and spooky cellar-pop atmospheres, Colour of the Trap could have been unearthed from some hidden basement lair beneath Joe Meek’s old studio. You half expect to blow on the sleeve and dislodge a cloud of dust.
While so much Ronson-sealed retro is all about re-upholstering Motown for the nostalgia market – the equivalent of digitally colouring in old footage of Aretha Franklin – Kane knows that the true power is in the spirit of the time, and this he sets about capturing with a craftsman’s eye. So Inhaler makes a buzzy, rootsy, garage gospel-blues racket out of what might well be a song about asthma treatments, while Quicksand squishes all the miniskirt-flapping thrills of the entire 1963 run of Ready, Steady, Go! into three minutes of twinkling pop brilliance. There’s detail and reverence in the Stones riff stabs of Come Closer, the Bolan bounce of My Fantasy, the Spaghetti Western surf of Counting Down the Days and the Hammond helltones of Kingcrawler that make them feel like lovingly reassembled dinosaur skeletons given new flesh.
That all of the songs recount romantic misdeeds and obsessions only serves to conjure all the more a period when 99.99% of all pop songs were about girls and the remaining 0.01% were about surfing or satellites. But how long can Kane keep his time-travel pop sounding relevant? Colour of the Trap, impressive an achievement as it is, is begging for diminishing returns. First the Shadow Puppets, now this… let’s hope Miles shows us what he can do with the current decade next time, or he’ll date as ferociously as a pre-nuptial David Walliams.
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Recorded in London with Dan Carey (Franz Ferdinand, Hot Chip) and San Francisco with Dan The Automator (Gorillaz, Kasabian), Colour of the Trap
is a glorious exploration into the darker corners of vintage pop, psych and blue-eyed soul sounds by Miles; half boy-next-door, half charisma-firework, all instantly loveable star quality.
Starting work on the album in the famous Konk Studios in Hornsey, this natural frontman went on to bunker down with producer Dan Carey in Streatham for four action packed weeks. The Wirral bred singer songwriter then travelled to the West Coast of the United States to hook up with Dan The Automator, who lent additional production to the lithe, lean R&B flavoured funk of "Come Closer", the album’s first fully available single. The infectious "Rearrange" as well as the erudite groove of "Counting Down The Days" were also honed with the Gorillaz collaborator.
For such a stellar record, it’s perhaps fitting that this 12 track collection boasts an all-star cast. Miles’ Last Shadow Puppets sparring partner and full time Arctic Monkey Alex Turner worked with Miles on the aptly named "Telepathy", while Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys provides backing vocals throughout the album and co-wrote the turbulent moody blues of "Kingcrawler".
Noel Gallagher appears as well, helping out with harmonies on "My Fantasy". The breathy, psychedelic romance "Happenstance" features another guest: French actress Clémence Poésy, best known for her roles in In Bruges and Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire.
"Rearrange" is a finger-snapping instant classic complete with guitar effects of which Joe Meek would be proud - a reference Kane happily accepts. "A friend of mine did say it was like the modern day Telstar in a weird way."
Further knowing nods to musical greats feature in "Better Left Invisible", which opens with a direct and purposeful reboot of the riff from John Lennon’s "Cold Turkey", while ‘Inhaler’ is a tribute to one of Miles’ favourite acts – Los Angeles’ psychedelic garage group Bonniwell Music Machine.
Very much a modern man, most of Miles’ accomplished material comes in the form of love songs, lyrically encompassing everything from the sleazy and seductive to the fragile and heartfelt.
Joined by a brand new band, featuring Jay Sharrock from The Sand Band on drums, singer-songwriter Eugene McGuinness on rhythm guitar, Ben Parsons and Phil Anderson from Cherry Ghost on keyboards and bass guitar respectively, Colour of the Trap
is just as scintillating live as it is on record.