If you weren’t an Arctic Monkeys fan before, it is likely you will be after giving this record a listen.
Having never been overly in love with Arctic Monkeys I approached this new record with an open mind and a little bit of excitement, as the music they have been producing recently has been some truly catchy stuff. To be brutally honest I think I am an Arctic Monkeys convert as of a few hours ago.
It’s been a case of knowing several songs from each of their previous four albums but never really committing to the entire project, which is something that I have to say is not true for AM. Starting with Do I Wanna Know and R U Mine, it is almost impossible not to continue listening – both songs are very much anthemic in their strong and simple sound, and it is well worth setting yourself up with some kind of bass booster just to experience them at their fullest. One For The Road definitely has a different type of sound, almost presenting our ears with a rhythm and blues tone, and it is refreshing. The final song, I Wanna Be Yours, is very much a song rich in such brutal honesty that makes it an emotional and enjoyable final three minutes. I never thought I’d enjoy a song so much that opened with the line “I wanna be your vacuum cleaner”. Who knew?
It’s easy to assume that by the time a band release their fifth album, their best days are behind them – but that is most definitely not the case with the Monkeys. In fact, I think we can go as far as to say it is their best yet. My only complaint would be that after the first few songs a couple of tracks seem to blend into one long 10 minute soul-search on Turner’s part, but upon repeated listening I have come to appreciate the album as a whole. Intricate and sharp lyricism cascades down next to bars of bluesy beats, and though some fans may miss the upbeat high tempo rhythm that graced a large amount of the bands’ debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, I think this more tame but more elaborate musical effort is something the boys from Sheffield can be very proud of.
Picks: One For The Road, Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
A few weeks ago I had an incredibly intense dream that has had a deep emotional effect on me ever since. I won’t bore you with the details, but in short I was diagnosed with a terminal illness and Alex Turner professed his undying love for me before abandoning me in my final hours because he had recording commitments at the BBC. To say I was hurt is an understatement, in fact I was angry and confused for days afterwards, so I’d like to use this opportunity to get a few things off my chest.
Why Alex, why did you leave me? I know you’ve tried to make it up. You said Do I Wanna Know? and I said leave me alone, I don’t care. Then you asked R U Mine? and I answered no. Then you told me to Snap Out Of It and I said how dare you Alex, I was dying and you didn’t care. In between you threw in some weird Dr Dre meets Sean Paul beats that strangely I enjoyed and slowly my cold heart melted. Finally you told me I Wanna Be Yours and I said damn you Alex Turner with your sweet croon how could I ever say no to those dulcet tones.
Alex Turner broke my heart, but AM has started to make it whole again.
Picks: Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?, Arabella, I Wanna Be Yours
Undoubtedly, there are a few former Arctic Monkeys fans that must have been feeling a bit cheesed off for the last 5 years or so. From Humbug onwards, the sound of the band changed drastically – Alex Turner rarely spits frantic verses over buzz-saw guitars anymore. The lads who were behind the phenomenal Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, were gone, and some of their former, more cynical plaudits would dismiss them as a Queens of The Stone Age pastiche.
AM continues with the swagger and heavy guitars that were the trademark of Humbug, and last year’s R U Mine – yet in lyrical content, the album is close to the band’s debut. As Turner swims in a substance-induced haze in the tracks Number 1 Party Anthem or Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High, one cannot help be reminded of the boy hopelessly trying to chat up girls in tracks like You Probably Couldn’t See for the Lights…. In many ways, AM is a retreading of their excellent debut. I urge the former fans therefore to give the band another chance; the unique lyrics (“collar popped like Cantona”) are still there, as is the virtuoso song writing. Don’t miss out – in my view, this is their best work yet.
Picks: R U Mine, Number 1 Party Anthem
Fifth studio album, AM, is a serious record from the Arctics – yet another collection of brilliant songwriting and undoubtedly poignant lyricism from Alex Turner. With Turner himself declaring that the album “sounds less like four lads playing in a room,” AM maybe lacks a bit of the floor-friendly energy of records like Whatever People Say, That’s What I’m Not, but it’s still quality. There’s more of a Black Keys feel to many of the tracks, with songs like Do I Wanna Know evoking the Danger Mouse-produced Brothers album with thumping, heavy bass, handclaps and snarling guitars. It’s slower, darker, and more heavily produced – an interesting record worth a listen, and a worthwhile collection of tunes from the Sheffield boys.
Picks: Arabella, Do I Wanna Know
The best thing about AM is that the brilliant song writing ability of Alex Turner has been supported by perfect production: every instrument plays a noticeable part in each song which brings a very natural and live feel to the album.
The album sees the band poetically embracing a British obsession with American 50s Rock N Roll and strikes a mix between the raunchy rifts of Humbug and the ballads of Suck it and See. But critically, is this the Sheffield boys losing touch with who they were back in 2006?
Though it’s nigh impossible to draw parallels with Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not you can’t deny that the music is still brilliant! Overall AM retains a pretty neutral-head nodding tempo which cleverly leaves the song writing to speak for itself, and is where the band has always shined. It’s an excellent album, but not on the demi-god level with which their first was.
Picks: Fireside, Arabella, Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?, R U Mine