Review: Miles Kane – Don’t Forget Who You Are
Published on June 6th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Miles Kane writes straight-up, no-nonsense indie rock with plenty of energy and fretboard heroics, making him ideally suited for dispersal amongst the hordes of skinny-jeans-clad Pacmans (Pacmen?) merrily waka waka’ing their way around Camden, unquestioningly gobbling up whatever some NME intern has proclaimed “the future of music” off the back of a free ‘plus one’ for the gig and quite possibly copping off with someone while there. Voila: Don’t Forget Who You Are is one of this summer’s must-have albums.
Out of such innocuousness may sweeping “soundtrack of a generation” tags be cooked up, and those who decide such matters are evidently still consumed by the twin notions of a) Oasis-style self-aggrandisement being a good thing, sounding exactly like them even better, and b) dressing like The Strokes is the true mark of genius, sounding exactly like them even better. Encore une fois, voila: Don’t Forget Who You Are is one of this summer’s must-have albums. Just so you’re in no doubt.
Unfortunately for Miles Kane, there are still people out there with the inclination to judge these matters by musical merit alone, and this is where his Oasis/Cast/solo Johnny Marr routine falls short. It’s not enough just to be that hip dude who was in Last Shadow Puppets with the bloke from (the significantly superior) Arctic Monkeys, not when you’re incapable of applying any kind of original thought to what you do. Yes, there’s energy, thus making for a game attempt at not sounding like stodgy, grey-infested lad/dad-rock; alas, this attempt is doomed from the outset.
The sheer predictability of the sounds on offer puts pressure on the lyrics to impress, so it’s regrettable that Don’t Forget Who You Are lays on a procession of decidedly dull musings such as “Life’s never easy / It keeps you guessing as you go”. If you wanted to be excessively harsh, you could point out that this music does indeed sound as if it came easy to Kane, in a ‘cruise control’ rather than ‘effortless’ way, and that it singularly fails to keep us guessing.
It’s not without its craft – there are some nifty songwriting touches to “Bombshell”, for example – but ultimately it just feels like a series of perfunctory calls-to-arms for the bereft of imagination, several rungs above the likes of Jet but light years behind the likes of Super Furry Animals, whose name gets dragged into the equation by dint of Kane’s decision to title one of the songs songs “Fire in My Heart”.
Having worked with Gruff Rhys in the past, there is a fair chance that Kane knew of the sweet, playful SFA number of the same name but deemed it fair game to crib the phrase for himself regardless. To be fair, that’s forgivable – it’s a title that many might conceivably have arrived at organically – but inviting any kind of comparison with the wild abandon of the Furries’ groundbreaking 1999 album Guerrilla was never going to reflect favourably on Kane.
Unless of course you like your music grey, workmanlike and overbearingly familiar, in which case we apologise for offending your sensibilities. Heck, those indie discos can’t play The Wombats forever, so hats off to Miles Kane for continuing to service this subculture so diligently. Anyone for a £1 vodka/Red Bull?
Rocksucker says: One and a Half Quails out of Five!
Don’t Forget Who You Are is out now on Sony.