By Miles Kane
Miles Kane is a productive lad. In only a short few years he's gone from playing guitar in The Little Flames to piloting The Rascals, collaborating with Arctic Monkeys, and co-fronting The Last Shadow Puppets with best mate Alex Turner. It's safe to say that Miles Kane has his fingers in a number of musical pies.
A venture into the murky waters of the solo artist was the next logical step for the productive Kane and so here we have Colour of the Trap, his debut solo album. It's the perfect opportunity for the singer-songwriter to showcase what he can do on his lonesome and despite enlisting the help of a couple of friends, Kane shows us that he has what it takes to go it alone.
Colour of the Trap opens strongly with a succession of fantastic songs. Come Closer, driven by a pumping bassline and a wall of grubby guitars, is the kind of pop song unafraid to sacrifice lyrical abundance for all-out singsong memorability and despite the lack of wordplay there is still a foreboding darkness in the few lyrics Kane scatters about the song.
Lush acoustic strums welcome in the spacey guitar licks of Rearrange, arguably the album's best song. As with five other tracks on the album, Alex Turner is listed as a co-songwriter but Kane tackles the song with gusto, punishing his guitar's whammy bar throughout, and proving that he's in possession of what it takes to write a truly great pop single.
My Fantasy trickles in with tinkering xylophone chimes, swelling strings and Marc Bolan-esque vocals. It's a blatant throwback to the 70s and the song proudly wears its influences on its sleeve, but a throbbing chorus of ascending guitars and vocal harmonies (Noel Gallagher's falsetto making an appearance) make My Fantasy an album highlight.
So far so good, but here Kane's luck temporarily runs out. Counting Down the Days is bland and monotonous, with Kane's insistence on elongating the end of every vocal-line proving irksome. The track never really gets moving and is skip-worthy. Happenstance, though better (thanks in no small part to the inclusion of actress Clemence Poesy on sultry duet duties) suffers from the same problems as the prior mentioned track; neither seems fueled by the same passion and urgency as the previous three songs.
Quicksand, basking in its overly poppy cheerfulness, is corny and trite; the album's worst track. This is made all the more tragic upon the discovery that the song is co-written by Super Furry Animals' frontman Gruff Rhys, usually a reliable songwriter. But it's clear that his input on Quicksand couldn't save the song from its pitfalls.
Thankfully this slump in quality doesn't last much longer - Inhaler makes sure of that. This fast paced, aggressively sung third single is a more than welcome return to form from Kane. The song explodes out the traps with a snarling guitar riff, unrelenting drums and fuzzy bass. It provides Kane's growling vocals with the perfect backdrop to blossom and there really is no denying that Kane has an impressive singing voice; even on the poorer album tracks he never sounds like he isn't putting it in.
The ominous pounding of tribal drums marks the arrival of Kingcrawler, the lecherous tale of the song's namesake who Kane warns his listeners will "take you down, down, down". The repetition of a mantra-like vocal hook and spindly Eastern-sounding keyboards tease relentlessly until the track's chorus erupts with volcanic ferocity. A love letter to Kane's affection for 60s psychedelic rock, Kingcrawler proves to be one of the album's most enduring songs.
The final third of the album is a mixed bag, with only Telepathy truly standing out. The title track is the best ballad on the album, a woozy waltz which conjures up images of Elvis Costello. Colour of the Trap is a good first effort from Miles Kane; it's an album that doesn't always hit the right spots, but one which undoubtedly hints at better things to come. If he can continue to craft songs as good as Rearrange and Inhaler then Kane's future looks bright.