ALBUM REVIEW: Arctic Monkeys, AM
Sheffield’s best, the Arctic Monkeys, have put out a new album, and over here at 9:30 we’re all abuzz. Alex Turner said about their 2009 release Humbug that in order to understand it, “You’ve got to suck it and see.” This phrase became the name of their 2011 album. You’re noticing a pattern, one that continues on their latest release, AM.
The reason the Arctic Monkeys are still relevant is because like their fans, they grow and change with each album. We all remember 2006’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. This album is easily their most accessible, with an adolescent, punky sensibility common of the time’s Brit-pop trends. However, while their contemporaries pigeon-holed and fizzled out, the Arctic Monkeys kept surprising us.
AM opens with “Do I Wanna Know?” a dark, pounding tune espousing feelings of obsession and longing. As Alex Turner croons along, “Cause there’s this tune I found that makes me think of you somehow and I play it on repeat until I fall asleep,” you can just see him in the smoky back room of a dive bar, making eyes with a mysterious brunette as he sips a beer. These lyrics are tinged with an irony, as Turner notoriously pens just the kind of songs that we play on repeat late at night when that certain someone is on our minds. Let’s go back further into their oeuvre; this same sentiment pours out of “Cornerstone" and "Love is a Laserquest.”
These themes of uncertainty and infatuation carry on throughout the album. On the next track, “R U Mine?” Turner cries out that “Satisfaction is a distant memory.” Isn’t that just like the early days of a romance—you’re aching with anxiety, you can think of nothing else. NME might have put it best in their review of this stellar album: “As you will have already read in NME, it’s a total West Coast record that’s as much late-’90s hip-hop in sound as it is mid-’70s rock. And the lyrics… oh, maaaan. At times they sound like they were written by a man with a burning hard-on who wants – or rather needs – to savagely fuck your body, mind and soul.”
In addition to its deeply felt lyrics, this album is technically brilliant. So many talented artists assisted our boys on this one, among them Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Elvis Costello’s drummer Pete Thomas and ex-Coral man Bill Ryder-Jones. It carries traces of all the previous albums, but with an added touch of blues. The difference between this album and the Arctic Monkeys’ first could be compared to the difference between the Beatles’ early releases and the White Album. They are no longer merely an indie rock band, they are both grown men and artists.
Overall, a 10/10. Other highlights include “Arabella” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” Don’t miss this album, seriously, because you could be missing out on one of the best albums of the decade.
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