Following four prototypically indie masterpieces, the Arctic Monkeys’ fifth album was fervently anticipated by their ever-expanding fan base, and the Sheffield five-piece don’t seem to have let us down.
Comprising 12 tracks, AM was recorded at Sage & Sound Recording in Los Angeles and Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, California. It features guest appearances from the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme, ex-Coral member Bill Ryder-Jones and Elvis Costello’s drummer Pete Thomas.
The overriding impression which emanates from the album is one of finely-tuned sophistication. Although still branded with their gritty and occasionally dark signature, this record seems to represent a ‘coming of age’ for the Arctic Monkeys. They have matured from an angsty ensemble who sung about prostitutes and drugs to a band of talented artists, creating music hinging lyrically on similar material, but written about in a more mellow, and often pensive fashion.
Alex Turner’s effortlessly cool demeanor remains unaltered, and the grunge-influenced rumbles of tracks like ‘R U Mine?’ and ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ hark back to their earlier and less polished material. The complex textural layers and accomplished vocal harmonies elevate these new songs to musically multifaceted compositions which exhibit Turner’s aptitude for poignant lyrics and memorable vocal hooks.
The slightly obscure words in the album’s final track ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ are taken from a John Cooper Clarke poem (“I wanna be your vacuum cleaner/Breathing in your dust/I wanna be your Ford Cortina/I will never rust”). Although fairly simple and somewhat repetitive, the lyrics form the basis of an extremely sentimental song which once again affirms the freshly cultivated stance of this record.
The staccato rhythms underpinning ‘Snap Out Of It’ have an almost big band-like feel, arguably lending another new angle to the band’s spectrum of influences, which in this album, spans Elvis Presley to The Beatles.
Perhaps one of the main things that AM represents is the band’s sturdy position not within a genre, but as their own genre. They were undoubtedly well on their way to doing this with their previous albums, but AM clinches it for them. It firmly asserts their iconic presence within an ever-shifting industry, and establishes maybe just how much they have progressed in their already highly propitious career.
…Anna is listening to First Aid Kit – ‘Heavy Storm’…