Steve Wilson. On music.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Alex Turner - Submarine (Domino)

Alex Turner always impressed me as a guy who could be a character in a Nick Hornby novel, a highly individual, but still archetypal wounded post-adolescent observer - the best narrators often the ones observing the committed missteps of others.

Turner’s no rube. His parents were teachers, his dad Music, his mom German. Turner himself has said that he’d have pursued studies in English at the University of Manchester had his year off to take a shot at playing music not paid off. Of course it did pay off. The Arctic Monkeys are as big as it gets in the U.K and have made serious commercial inroads in the States. Their fourth studio album Suck it and See is out soon, their fourth in five years. The band tours relentlessly.

None of this has kept Turner busy enough it seems. His collaboration with Miles Kane and James Ford in the Last of the Shadow Puppets struck a bittersweet Sixties/Seventies obsessed tone with Beatles, Bowie and Scott Walker inspirations. Compared to the blazing guitar intensity of the Monkeys, Age of the Understatement was by turns a wistful and rueful set, an urchin’s take on beau monde. More stripped down in arrangement than Understatement, Turner’s songs for the film Submarine feature two guitars, a dash of keyboards and the rare drum track. Not having seen the film (the tale of an alienated teenage boy in Swansea who is romancing a troubled young girl and whose parents are in marital disarray) I can’t really comment on how the songs work in the film. But they stand by themselves splendidly.