Opinion was always going to be split over Miles Kane's second solo album, any objective response clouded by preconceptions of the derided 'lad-rock' formula. What Kane brings on Don't Forget Who You Are, mining decades of British indie rock, is 30+ minutes of mod-fuelled, retro-flavoured Britpoppery. Though easily categorised, the fruits of the 27 year old's labour make up an energetic piece that should not be so readily dismissed.
Eager to be no longer upstaged by his sometime Last Shadow Puppets collaborator (and co-writer of a fair chunk of Kane's previous solo effort), Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner, the brash former Rascals frontman purposefully puts himself centre-stage. Comprising a series of three minute energy-bursts, amid scant respite, Kane's punchy, primal tunes are designed for the stage. Propelled headlong by the straight-forward structure and swagger of 'Taking Over', Kane maintains the album's frenetic pace with the title track, a rousing sing-along which proposes this Scouser is most at home with fellow Liverpudlians the Coral's brand of indie. 'Better Than That' and 'What Condition Am I In?' are sparky, melodic and effective, if thematically trite, while album closer 'Darkness in Our Hearts' has substance, with a neat contrast between acquiescent lyrics and jaunty Strokes-style guitar/drums.
Engaging it may be, but Don't Forget Who You Are was never going to break new ground in terms of complexity. From the Liam Gallagher/Richard Ashcroft vocals and posturing, to aping luminaries such as John Lennon, Marc Bolan or Paul Weller (who, along with XTC's Andy Partridge, contributes some songwriting), Miles Kane wears his influences on his sleeve. The one-dimensional songs are rather interchangeable and tainted by Britpop excess; the acoustic balladeering of 'Out of Control' and the anthemic 'Tonight' too close, respectively, to Oasis and Kasabian for comfort.
It's a case of riffs over rhymes for Kane. His simplistic, perfunctory lyrics are neither arch nor cerebral, but then that's hardly the point. The tone is a continuation of the indie-rock of 2011's Colour of the Trap, while Kane's band and Ian Broudie's production inject a dynamism that keeps everything on track. Kane's conviction and self-confidence enable him to shrug off accusations of banality and unoriginality. Yes, he believes in the sanctity of love, but his musical idols stands taller. With Don't Forget Who You Are, Miles Kane achieves his aim: he delivers a lively British album immediate yet rooted in the music he cherishes and, by looking backward, moves forward.
Review by Killian Barry