The questions asked by AM go further than song titles such as ‘R U Mine?’ ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ Before the full release of the album it was the fans of the Yorkshire quartet asking the questions, mainly about the loss of identity from the Arctic Monkeys; no longer scruffy Sheffield lads but refined LA musicians.
However the band has responded with a phenomenally polished and completely sexed up album. In short: they’ve lost nothing, they’ve just gotten better.
With a lethargic but purposeful beat, the album kicks into life with ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ the moody, second single from AM and a real taste of what the Arctic Monkeys have to offer this time round. Meanwhile ‘R U Mine?’, first heard upon its release in 2012 is one of the album’s most upbeat numbers; signature Arctic Monkeys, with a chorus overflowing with incredible riffs and Alex’s northern brogue still clear.
Turner, along with band mates Jamie Cook, Matt Helders and Nick O’Malley have been quick to point out that the album isn’t rap-rock, but the experimentation with R&B and hip-hop is something the band have been happy to point out. It has never been a question of “will it work?” with the dip into these genres; more like “will it sound as good as their other stuff?” And oh my, it does. The first real taste of this comes in the form of ‘One For The Road’ with its chorus filled with lyrics that wouldn’t be out of place on an R&B album.
Lyrically, AM is up there with the best that Turner has ever produced. ‘Arabella’ complete with “interstellargator skin boots” is delivered expertly by one of the best lyricists in the music game. ‘I Want It All’ goes back to their rock roots, while drunken ballad ‘No.1 Party Anthem’ and ‘Mad Sounds’ – complete with “ohh la la la’s” – slow the album down once more.
The more rhythmic ‘Fireside’ is followed by ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ and reverts the album back to the hip-hop feel; a punchy start, heavy on both drums and guitar, and a catchy-as-hell chorus. The album takes another twist in the form of both ‘Snap Out Of It’ and ‘Knee Socks,’ both of which are upbeat and drum-infused numbers.
If AM hadn’t already suppressed the “they’ve turned American!” comments, the last track on the twelve song strong LP entitled ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ shows just how in touch with their roots the band are, bringing to life the John Cooper Clarke poem that both Turner and Helders were taught at school.
The latest album in the Arctic Monkeys’ career shows that they aren’t ones for being pigeonholed. They’ve not been afraid to experiment and, really, why should they have been afraid in the first place? They’re up there with the greatest bands of the last decade, and I think you can look past Alex Turner’s questionable Elvis-like quiff if they continue to produce music like this.
4 stars ★★★★✰
If you have a couple more minutes to spare, why not check out the past week’s other content?