It’s been half a decade since Miles Kane’s last solo record, Don’t Forget Who You Are. Since then, a lot has changed on the indie music spectrum. While most of Miles Kane’s contemporaries have fallen into obscurity, the general landscape has changed. Gone is the more lad-inspired indie-rock and in has come a heavier post-punk sound. So Kane had to change it up for his third record, Coup De Grace, and he has – just about. Instead of middle of the road indie, Kane has harked back to the 60s with the likes of John Lennon and T-Rex clear influences on an album that is as anthemic as you’d expect and more melancholy than you’d imagine. Yet, it’s not necessarily for the better.
The album gets off to a rocky start. Album opener ‘Too Little Too Late’ conveys a sound described by Kane as “Punky but croonery” and it’s pretty much as bad as that description. Like the poorest song on an NME compilation album, it’s a fast-paced vacuum of triviality. It means absolutely nothing, and it reverts Kane’s career back to the mid-00s. Luckily, this is followed by two of the finest songs on the record. ‘Cry On My Guitar’ is a foot-stomping ode to Marc Bolan and chums, while ‘Loaded’, co-written with Jamie T and Lana Del Rey, sees Kane at his most mature. Vocally reminiscent of Imagine-era Lennon, with the lounge-ballad sound of The Last Shadow Puppets’ Age of the Understatement, this is the best Kane has ever been.
For every ‘Loaded’, however, there’s a ‘Cold Light of The Day’ and ‘Silverscreen’. In the run up to this record, Kane spoke about the influence of the Sex Pistols and The Clash on Coup De Grace but singing fast over a strong drumbeat doesn’t create a punk sound. ‘Silverscreen’, in particular, is about as plastic punk as it gets. It’s vapid, inane and completely meaningless. For such a passionate and emotional frontman, Kane sure knows how to phone it in. Which makes it all the more frustrating when Coup De Grace hits the heights it should. ‘Coup De Grace’ is a funk-laden single destined to be a live favourite, whereas ‘Wrong Side of Life’ sees Kane exploring the ballad with impressive results.
Coup De Grace is a real mixed bag. While the singles – ‘Coup De Grace’, ‘Loaded’ and ‘Cry on My Guitar’ – see Kane grasp at the worlds of rock and roll and funk, with his own northern twang steeped onto it, the other half of the record relapses into mediocrity. On the whole, Coup De Grace is an album of ifs and buts. If only Kane had been braver; but he wasn’t. Ultimately, this was a chance for Kane to take the step to stardom he’s desperately craved, but Coup De Grace just isn’t good enough to warrant that. Coup De Grace reeks of a man not willing to let go of his indie heyday.