Album Reviews Music

Album Review: ‘Change the Show’ by Miles Kane

Words by Billy Edwards

Images from Ian Cheek PR

Lockdown is an opportunity too good to miss for rock stars. Miles Kane is one of the busiest: a member of the Last Shadow Puppets, formerly of The Rascals, and a frequent co-writer with Lana Del Rey, he has naturally borne a fourth-solo album out of his unexpected free time. Taking a step back to look around and consider the music he wanted to make. Change The Show has a sound akin to the excitement of thinking about what to do its end; voluptuous, fun and energetic, it’s a blast of uplifting and much-needed escapism from his “lad-rock” detractors and often a tribute to many of his musical heroes. 

This is a record of an unapologetic self-dubbed “old-school orchestrator”, looking at his own record collection and seeing the moments and people of his life, moments of bliss, love and soul locked in the grooves, High Fidelity style, and enigmatically painting those experiences through an album. Its instrumentation is surprisingly playful in style; sometimes such a departure from his indie credentials that his fans may have to take some time to get to know this Kane. Injected with an outsider view of living in Los Angeles and channelling such varied influences as Bowie, Weller, Talking Heads, 50s rockabilly and Motown – “call me an old romantic”, Kane downplays – you’ll relish in the delight to hear something so openly freeing for its creator.

It’s hard to beat opener Tears Are Falling as the stand-out track: Kane invites us into his unexpected post-lockdown milieu of the sensibilities of 1970s pop-rock. Its tip-tap piano, accompanied by lilting harmonies with a high-pitch croon, paint glorious shades of Harry Nilsson: not to mention the biting country chorus, reminiscent of when said, decade’s most beloved piano-player said goodbye to his yellow brick road. Its theatrical bombast is a strong surveyor of where we find Kane on Change the Show, before he flips over his side of America on the slick Don’t Let It Get You Down, a champion-horse bass-heavy stampede. It’s surprise gun-ho turn after turn, yet all these tracks carry far more muscle in production compared to his previous work, gifting the rhythm section a particularly keen soundstage, promising likely riches for the quality of its sound on vinyl record, a format which sounds like it’s natural home. 

See Ya When I See Ya is like a smile-power-generator right from its opening-guitar solo – when was the last term you heard one of those?! Swinging honkytonk abounds; I was almost punching the air at how well it captures the spirit of the carefree moments of John Lennon, his imprint on Kane evident in the excellent vintage film-mimicking music video, featuring a glimpse of the Beatle on a mug. Á la A Hard Day’s Night, this is an album made up of infectious three-minute pop songs with nothing outstaying its welcome; the tempo continues to rise with Never Get Tired of Dancing a power-pop track with an emphasis on the power. It’s a swinging and thumping fusion of glam and mod R&B, featuring Miles roaring in his craves for dancing, all in the rather quaint way, when “dancing” in the use of pop was often a euphemism, ending on a “wooo-aargh, I’ll neth-tha get tired of dancin’ with yooooou!” against a crushing guitar riff as a tip-of-the-top-hat to Marc Bolan. Its cheerful eclecticism continues with Tell Me What You’re Feeling, a progression of the northern soul covers released in lockdown as the lead vocalist of The Jaded Hearts Club supergroup, having a go at writing one himself. Getting suitably low in the groove with a raw call-and-response chorus, its rapid funk-brothers beat even makes a boogie-woogie piano solo sound like a cool thing to do again. It’s surprise turn after turn, following this eruption of tension with the lush, dream-like Coming of Age, painted in pastoral colours, whilst also a tasteful waltz that will surprise many. His lyricism sometimes struggles at points to live up to his skill for melodies, but Coming of Age hits the mark with a compassionate soul-searcher of a youthful imagination starting to feel old for the first time: “there’s always something in the way, there’s always something left to say, there’s always a little hesitation…” Kane confronts head-on his maturation as a person, all whilst doing the very same as a musician with little hesitation in its country twinge, dropping into a rumbling guitar solo. The new-found self-assuredness present within Change The Show is reflected in its relaxed conception, apparent in Nothing’s Ever Gonna Be Enough: Miles is joined by the effortlessly-sweet Corinne Bailey Rae to act out an image akin to a couple half-heartedly bickering during a picnic under a sun-drenched tree, a charming song originally devised over a wine-fuelled zoom meeting. However, it leaves you with the impression the timing of the release of this summer-appropriate record hasn’t been as well-timed as it deserves. 

With pretty melodies, experimentation and confidence in spades, Change The Show is a great album, and should be a suitable show-changer for Miles Kane, his fans and his critical reputation. in the same way, the music within makes an enjoyable change from his previous work, supplemented by the most ear-pleasing of spacious productions. In what will be worth the wait of well over three years for fans, “When you listen to your own beat / you can be anything you want” he not only imparts but demonstrates wonderfully over his irrepressible enthusiasm on Change The Show

Change the Show can be found on all major streaming services and is available for order here.

Tickets for his 2022 tour can be found here.

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