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Imagine for a second you are Miles Kane. Getting past the cool suits, famous friends and film offers to play John Lennon, you’ve been in three bands, one of which, The Last Shadow Puppets, gave you critical success.  Your debut solo album not only produced songs such as ‘Come Closer’ and ‘Rearrange’ but showed the world you could stand alone.  You’re 27, you’ve been playing guitar for a living since you were 18.  All three albums you’ve released to date have had the prefix ‘debut’. And now you’ve got to make ‘the second album’. What would you do?  Party more, live the life? Wait until the timing fits to return to the comfort of The Last Shadow Puppets and put out an album with your best mate, whose own track record should help in guaranteeing success? Those solutions are for not Miles Kane.  What Miles did was get his head down, write thirty tracks, go into the studio and come out with a second solo album that is filled with great tunes, stomping drums beats and his infectious personality.

‘Taking Over’ kicks things off.  It’s the blueprint for what follows.  Catchy riff, passionate delivery and a sing-along chorus.   It’s followed by single and title track ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’.  Lyrically this track best sums up Kane at this point in his career.  He sings of wanting to shine and standing apart, about throwing out old doubt and not letting worries dictate to him.  These are words of a man who has confidence in his ability.  He’s determined to not forget where he came from (some of the album’s cover and inlay photographs were taken outside his mum and auntie’s meat stall) but he knows that he is going somewhere new, somewhere exciting. The album ranges in influences. There’s glam rock, solo Weller and some early sixties stuff. That is most obvious on the next track, ‘Better than That’, which references Brando and Bardot, and Mr Brown saying he’s felt good.   

Ballad ‘Out of Control’ slows the pace, giving us chance to breathe.  The break is timed well, piano and strings replacing the urgent speed of the early tracks. We don’t get to relax for long though as the next three songs, ‘Bombshells’, co-written with producer Ian Broudie of the Lightening Seeds, ‘Tonight’ and ‘What Condition Am I In?’ all return to the energy of the early section.  The riff of ‘What Condition’ sounds like The Beatles’ ‘Birthday’. If the album were a live gig, this is the point Kane would point to the side of the stage and say, “I’d like to introduce Paul Weller’. The Modfather co-wrote the next two tracks. The first, ‘Fire in My Heart’, starts off like an early Oasis b-side (Half the World Away being the main point of reference).  It’s whimsical and soft, the hidden gem of the album for me.  It fits in nicely, surrounded by all the energy and passion, and it feels like the calm before the storm of the remainder of the record. Next is ‘You’re Gonna Get It’ which wouldn’t be out of place on the co-writers ‘As Is Now’ album.  This tune gives us a hint of how the album ends, with the riffs heavier, delivery passionate.  First single, ‘Give Up’, carries on in the same manner.   

If ‘Taking Over’ was the blueprint for the album, final track ‘Darkness in our Hearts’ is the sum of all its parts.  Heavier verses, sing-along choruses, an almost screeching guitar solo that builds into the final crescendo of noise with Miles chanting “Gotta be/ Gotta be ready for it” over the top.  If he is referencing the big time, I think he’s ready. There’s a line in ‘Taking Over’ that goes “I was smiling at the radio”.  This helps highlight how I felt after the 32 minutes of music finished.  The energy and confidence that came across in the sound of the whole album, felt like I’d listened to a man who was enjoying himself, confident in his decision to not hide behind past glories but push himself and improve. 

‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ has certainly done enough to side step any issues that can arise in a ‘difficult second album’.  Maybe the answer is simple.  Make three debuts, then a second album. 

Review by Steven Kedie -

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