Arctic Monkeys – AM
Released: September 9, 2013
Producer: James Ford, Ross Orton
Genre: Indie Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Garage Rock
01 Do I Wanna Know?
02 R U Mine?
03 One for the Road
05 I Want It All
06 No.1 Party Anthem
07 Mad Sounds
09 Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
10 Snap Out of It
11 Knee Socks
12 I Wanna Be Yours
When the Arctic Monkeys started out, with their drunk UK “wittiness” and their youthy cleverness, they released some crudely names records like Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Their never mind the Bollocks attitude (accompanied with good music of course) along with their generation defining music, is far behind them now. Just this year they were headlining the Glastonbury festival with an explosive set. Their fifth album AM is the final step into musical maturity. They cut down their greasy hair bangs hanging in their eyes, and stomped in this album like proper rock stars. The album has went through all the natural phases of maturity. The teenage no-bullshit punk, the doomy stoner-bong rock and to shiny guitar pop. Their latest release is a combination of tight jeans funky and their never ending sex appeal. Resulting in their most focused and complete release to date.
Meanwhile, singer and lyricist Alex Turner has moved from talking about how great the indie nightlife is to more bluish, sleek and self-concerned lines. For example, take a look at the track “No.1 Party Anthem”. When I first noticed it I expected it to be a lot like their breakout track “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”. But instead they chose differently. It tells of a collar-popped lothario on the prowl in a dank club made up of “lights on the floors and sweat on the walls, cages and poles.” But instead of blaring, this anthem is wistful, its piano, acoustic strums, and croons suggesting days gone by. Its swirling bridge sums up the scene in just a few choice phrases– “The look of love/ The rush of blood/ The ‘she’s with me’/ The Gallic shrug”– and sounds like a definitive endnote to Turner’s most notable songwriting style.
So AM talks about the tiring club life, the rockstar life, flirts after flirts ending up in sleezy hotel rooms, and the bad decisions that go with all that. One of the albums singles, “R U Mine?” sums that up in one little sentence: “R U mine tomorrow, or just mine tonight?” An entire world of sex and love summed up into one little text message. One the likes of The Weeknd and Drake would appreciate. Turner’s showcases some of his best songwriting on this album. He’s a romantic guy living in an unromantic world, desperately trying to find a way to survive this never ending travelling lifestyle. From city-to-city it never ends. In some ways the band’s supposed struggle, the whole general “rockstar gods” attitude in the album and their gleaming transformation to legends is very reminiscent of U2 and their turnaround. And for Turner in particular, the switch has him writing about desperate midnight snack and insomnia thoughts: some horny, some bleary, some a bit frightening and disturbing.
The albums best track is obvious not only because it’s the first track but even after hearing it for about a year it still sneaks up on me like a predator somewhere in between hunger and lust. “I dreamt about you nearly every night this week,” he growls on “Do I Wanna Know?”, which slowly rolls forward thanks to guitarist Jamie Cook’s sheer genius and his unquestionable love for Queen‘s riffs. Speaking of queens; “Knee Socks” tells of a wintertime tale that climaxes with an operatic guest vocal from Queens of the Stone Age‘s Josh Homme, who could’ve used some of AM‘s groove on this year’s …Like Clockwork.
The only one true refuge you can find in this entire haunting record might be “Mad Sounds”. “Mad Sounds” is AM‘s most hopeful song, an achingly sincere ballad that employs melody, swing, and “oh la la las” to attest to the power of melody, swing, and “oh la la las.” It teases out the purest interpretation of the Rorschach-like sine waves that adorn AM‘s cover, which, depending on your vantage, or mood, could also read as leering sunglasses or maybe a bikini top. If you want look even deeper to this creepy album “I Wanna Be Yours” answers all the questions posed by its opening predecessor “Do I Wanna Know”. Which is: When faced with easy one-night pleasure all some happy-ending lasting love and devotion, Turner might have chosen the second one. But; upon further listening it features lyrics by UK punk poet John Cooper Clarke from his 1982 track of the same name, which uses the language of commercialism to express the deepest love. “I wanna be your vacuum cleaner, breathing in your dust,” sings Turner as a lonely drum machine highlights the sentiment’s emptiness. Still, the song doesn’t sound cynical. It’s genuinely affecting. Which is the same result in AM. And Turner hopes it might be a lasting one.
“Do I Wanna Know?”
“R U Mine?”