ALBUM REVIEW: Arctic Monkeys – AM
When the Arctic Monkeys strolled out onto the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2013 and kicked off their comeback headlining set with new song ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ all the signs were good. They were clearly confident about their new material. They weren’t hiding it away after all the greatest hits, they were ready to show it off. But then we shouldn’t have been surprised about that, they’ve never been scared of putting everything on the line at key moments.
‘Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not’ had everyone talking. Fast, relentless indie rock with spitting lyrics and a general ‘we’re fucking here and we’re fucking cool’ attitude, the Monkeys embedded themselves in society’s consciousness and created a sound for a generation. That album was about being a teenager in the north of England; kids could relate and it was believable. Most of all, it was fun and it breathed life into guitar music again.
Four albums later and you can hear the evolution with ‘AM’. Following a more sombre outing with ‘Suck It And See’ the Monkeys are older, more experienced and you can’t help but feel with this collection that they have arrived somewhere. ‘AM’ is cohesive, confident and energetic. It feels like they’ve found new optimism and swagger.
Turner remains a master magician lyricist. His ability to provide an honest and witty narrative on society and human behaviour has developed to the point now where he takes no prisoners. He is in equal part sharp, bitter, humorous, romantic but most of all he’s still hungry for more. His genius is evident throughout. Highlight moments include: ‘You were a stranger in my phonebook I was acting like I knew / ‘Cause I had nothing to lose / When the winter’s in full swing and your dreams just aren’t coming true / Ain’t it funny what you’ll do’. He’s the best songwriter of his generation; if that was ever in doubt he’s more than proved his point now.
Here is a band five albums in that still isn’t afraid to experiment. The singles lead the way in terms of rock value, but there’s a wealth of genres within this collection. Hip hop is a continuous undercurrent and the most exciting tracks like ‘Knee Socks’ and ‘Arabella’ show the truly iconic influence working with Josh Homme of the Queens of the Stone Age has had on them. It’s exciting to hear more and more harmonising between Turner’s deep silky vocals and Helder’s falsetto accompaniments across numerous tracks.
‘Snap Out Of It’ sways into the ‘pop’ territory more than they ever have before. The result is awesome. The Arctic Monkeys do pop better than most pop artists. Catchy, upbeat but still inherently ‘the Monkeys’ it makes me want to throw some elaborately exaggerated dance moves around an indie club with one of my best mates and shout the lyrics at him.
One could be forgiven for liking some of the slower tracks on ‘AM’ less than others. ‘No.1 Party Anthem’ slows down proceedings for three more subtle tracks which are mostly for the hardcore Monkeys fans, but even these quieter moments show such progression from the early days of the Monkeys they are sure to win over even the biggest doubters after multiple listens.
‘AM’ is a triumphant return from the Arctic Monkeys which puts them well and truly ahead of their guitar wielding peers. They continue to trail blaze whilst remaining true to the identity they created back at album one. The true victory of this album is that it has you already gagging for the next one but more than satisfied until that comes along. Best of both worlds.
‘AM’ is released on September 9th 2013.