18
Sep
13

Album Review – Arctic Monkeys: AM

Arctic-Monkeys-AMThe Down Lizzo:

This is normally the part of my reviews where I give some background and context of who and what the band I’m reviewing is.

I feel like a bit of an idiot in this instance though because are you seriously telling me you don’t know who the Arctic Monkeys are?

Who are you man?! Seriously, what the fuck are you doing on this site? You take a wrong turn on the way to 2OceansVibe? Get out from under that rock man! Christ, you’re missing all the good stuff!

Now that that’s sorted, let’s get into the meat and bones of this album, shall we?

Those of us who are familiar with the Arctic Monkeys will also be familiar with the fact that this band is incapable of releasing a dud album.

Don’t take my word for it though, read this article which says that the band have made Official UK Album Chart history as the only indie-released act to release five consecutive albums at Number One on the UK Albums Chart.

 

 

More impressive than that however is the musical journey that this band has gone through. Few bands come to mind that are as doggedly determined to surge forward in terms of the evolution of their sound as the Arctic Monkeys.

As I’ve noted in previous reviews, they could have comfortably continued releasing borderline bubblegum-pop indie albums like their first two, started loping off into the sunset around album number five and disappeared from the music altogether and that would have been just fine.

Instead they pretty much overhauled their entire sound with their 3rd album, the Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age) produced Humbug in 2009. Overnight they changed from sarcastic indie kids to dark, brooding desert rockers, a change that lost them a big portion of their original fanbase and lead to a lot of people saying Josh Homme had “ruined” the Arctic Monkeys.

 

 

I love Humbug, but even I’ll admit that Homme’s influence was a bit too strong on that album. He has a way of seeping into every project he’s involved in and leaving an unmistakeable mark on everything he touches.

In contrast, 2011’s Suck It And See felt like the band was trying to reconcile who they’d become with who they were. The results were a record that showed a lot of promise – lighter in tone than Humbug, it still had some pretty psychedelic moments and saw the band letting rip with a couple of monster, 70s era riffs in tracks like “Brick By Brick” and “Don’t Look Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair”.

It’s that direction that the Arctic Monkeys have explored fully on AM and in doing so have found a sound that, while it borrows heavily on 70s rock is still so distinctly theirs that it’s no wonder the new album is topping charts the world over.

 

 

Sick Tracks

It starts slow, deliberate, hand-clapping, bass drum thumping beats, there is space, fucking football fields of the stuff, they let it breathe, they are in absolutely no rush to blow your fucking mind. That’s “Do I Wanna Know?”

And sure, why not drop everything except the bass, drums and vocals for half of the second verse? It fucking works because Alex Turner is one of the best crooners in rock music today – fact.

“So have you got the guts? / Been wondering if your heart’s still open and if so I wanna know what time it shuts / Simmer down and pucker up / I’m sorry to interrupt it’s just I’m constantly on the cusp of trying to kiss you…”

 

 

From there they land “R U Mine?” like a fucking sucker-punch right to the teeth. Matt Helders lands drum beats and fills like H-bombs, Jamie Cook and Turner wield their axes with brutal precision and don’t get me started Nick O’Malley’s menacing bass guitar, it’ll give you goosebumps brother. It’ll haunt you in your favourite worst nightmares.

But again, that fucking space, galaxies of it. So much room in the track, they don’t give a fuck about trying hard, they aren’t out there to ram 160bpm monstrosities down your throat. They play the right notes at the right times. It’s simple and it fucking works.

But it’s when the song reaches the 2:30 mark that it finally hits home that Turner and pals aren’t here to fuck around. Everything cuts out except Turner’s vocals. Everything. How many rock bands are doing that in the second fucking track on the album?! NONE of them have the fucking stones to even think it, let alone make it so.

 

 

The payoff when the band drops back in is so goddamn beautiful it’ll leave you grinning from ear to ear, nodding your head, tapping your feet and saying “Fuck yeah…”

“One For The Road” (one of two tracks that the band collaborates with Josh Homme on) creeps, slinks and haunts at every bend. The subtle guitar-picking melody in the second verse will come back to you the next time you’re out late, headlights burning through the darkness, nothing but broken thoughts for company.

Then there’s “Arabella”, sexy as hell, everything beautiful and dangerous in the world rolled tightly into a  psychedelic ballad, brought to life by Turner’s exceptionally fucking brilliant lyrics.

“My days end best when the sunset gets itself behind / That little lady sitting in the passenger side / It’s much less picturesque without her catching the light / The horizon tries but it’s just not as kind on the eyes.”

 

 

“I Want It All” is a track The Black Keys wish they’d written. Turner trades his baritone for a falsetto and knocks it out the fucking park. The solo in this song rips through the ether like a comet, leaving a trail of fiery debris streaked across the night sky.

They innovate with “Fireside”, they trip out on “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”, they throw a piano into “Snap Out Of It” for an instant timeless classic rock song with a hundred times more swag than the legal limit and they tie it all back together with the slow, sultry “I Wanna Be Yours” – a perfect closer to an album that is like nothing you will hear this year, or the year after that, or the year after that.

Should You Give A Shit?

For the love of all that is holy, buy this album. It’s the OK Computer of the ‘10s.

Here’s “I Want It All”:

 

 

Final Verdict: 9/10

-ST


1 Response to “Album Review – Arctic Monkeys: AM”


  1. 1 Seerower
    September 20, 2013 at 9:23 am

    This review is awesome; well done! The hedonist in me controls my wallet and you convinced me that this album is one of life’s great pleasures.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge