Arctic Monkeys
AM


3.0
good

Review

by Jonny Hunter CONTRIBUTOR (103 Reviews)
September 5th, 2013 | 123 replies | 20,612 views


Release Date: 09/06/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: So bring in the psychedelic twang, falsetto backing vocals and Alex’s new grown-up haircut and listen to Arctic Monkeys schmaltz through 12 songs your dad will like.

Arctic Monkey’s fifth studio album AM can be best described in reference to the long running documentary series “7 Up,” which follows the lives of a select group of people in seven year intervals. Like the documentary, we can stand in the present and look back on a steady, linear career as the band’s style evolved, but who could have stood seven years ago at the release of Whatever People Say I Am… and have predicted the band becoming so, well, dejected? Arctic Monkey’s debut was anything but: with a cigarette sneer and an endless supply of observational gold it was a healthy “*** you” to polite society. Now they sound just about ready to start playing fake tales at weddings.

Someone will get that.

So bring in the psychedelic twang, falsetto backing vocals and Alex’s new grown-up haircut and listen to Arctic Monkeys schmaltz through 12 songs your dad will like. AM represents a fairly straightforward hybrid of past material where the band’s early punch and circumstance is blown hazily through Humbug’s stoner rock roach. This leads to a fairly eclectic but nevertheless fitting mix of riff-lead singles and smoky, distant ballads, forming a setlist more likely to be played after the clubs close instead of before a night on the town.

To their credit it works when they set their mind to it. Opening tracks “Do I Wanna Know?” and “R U Mine?” (you tell me, Alex) offer a one-two punch of catchy hooks and the kind of cheesy machismo created by songs completely dominated by simple riffs. “R U Mine?” might even prompt flashbacks of the band’s indie-punk origins as Alex momentarily drops the late-night predatory sneer coating his vocals for the rest of “the really cool, sexy after-midnight record.” Juxtaposed together, it’s interesting to see how wildly different the effects of both vocal styles are: from exciting seven years ago to more distant and glazed-over today. Arctic Monkeys are getting older a bit faster than time should allow them.

This all culminates in “No. 1 Party Anthem:” a song as good as it is deemed toungue-in-cheek, simply because it’s hard to tell. On one hand, the slow paced ballad obviously smirks at its own title, on the other we can argue all day about how seriously old/young Alex is taking the chase he describes. Lyrically he is very serious, but he sounds reflective to the point of exhaustion. A similar thing can be said about the album’s closer “I Wanna Be Yours,” as lyrics (borrowed from a poem) like “I wanna be your Ford Cortina, I will never rust” are matched with stone cold serious delivery. From a man known for his own lyrical prowess it can only be a joke, but then again the band now spell song titles like they were received by text from a middle aged parent so the question remains.

The ambiguity continues into AM’s lyrics as a whole. Styles have shifted from witty soundbites to more atmospheric stories, but while still good enough there’s little in the way of any burn-into-memory lines like the kind strung together in Whatever People Say I Am… or the ever memorable “what came first, the chicken or the dickhead?”. As one of the main attractions to the band originally it seems too good to be ignored, though it’s understandable Arctic Monkeys feel a bit past those kind of lines now they’re all grown-up.

Sadly, AM suffers pretty heavily from weak spots as Arctic Monkeys sink so far into their late-night, sexy role they forget to be interesting. The second half of the album can almost be considered a write off as it swings from dull to bland: barely registering like a ticking clock. Seven years on from their tearaway days it seems there isn’t too much for the band to talk about. Arctic Monkeys sing about girls now; god help us.

Still, the album is far from a complete flop. The northern lads may have tamed over the past few years but they’ve at least still got a little bit of “the stuff.” Falsetto vocals are a novel -if a little overused- introduction, and Arctic Monkeys have grown a nice ear for melodies, which they use to colour up otherwise monochrome ballads. AM sounds pretty unique, too, but at the same time if just doesn’t feel very special. Their self-imposed exile from pop music’s form of Overton window doesn’t seem to have payed off at all.



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user ratings (735)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2013



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I am not at all, in any way, bitter. nu-uh... no sir.

Originally here: http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/2013/09/album-review-arctic-monkeys-am.html

Rowan5215
September 5th 2013



25580 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Disagree hard of course but great review. Couple of things:

"I Wanna Be Yours" is an adaptation of a poem, Turner didn't actually write the lyrics as you said.

"Arctic Monkeys feel a bit passed those kind of lines"
past*

Digging: Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2013



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Adaption of a poem? Jesus... :P

Cheers man, i'll dive in and clear dat shit up.

Rowan5215
September 5th 2013



25580 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah can't remember who it's by but yeah thankfully Turner didn't write those lyrics haha. I can understand some of the points you made in this review but I don't really agree with them haha, I just love this album.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2013



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That's fair enough - god knows how many times I've ready negative or average reviews for albums I love and thought "you're missing the fucking point, GAHHH!"

Rowan5215
September 5th 2013



25580 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I know what you mean, but I dunno you seem to have noticed all the things I love about this record - mostly THAT falsetto - it just doesn't grab you like it grabs me I guess. Do you at least dig Knee Socks man?

WhiteNoise
September 5th 2013



3108 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I wanna be yours is a John Cooper Clarke poem

Rowan5215
September 5th 2013



25580 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

^ There you go

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2013



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Can't say I'm a fan of Knee Socks, no

Rowan5215
September 5th 2013



25580 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Damn, most people I've talked to seem to agree that it's the standout from this album, especially the bridge section. But fair enough.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
September 5th 2013



13025 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

review is correct dam

Digging: Electric Wurms - Musik Die Schwer Zu Twerk

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2013



6011 Comments


The album is streaming at iTunes.

http://albumstreams.com/s/arctic-monkeys/am



Digging: Troldhaugen - Obzkure Anekdotez For Maniakal Massez

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2013



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah I probably should have linked that, thanks

avonbarksdale221
September 5th 2013



8224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review, nails it.

Underflow
September 5th 2013



2554 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'll have to spin this later. There's probably some stuff here that will be worth the listen.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2013



6443 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Arctic Monkeys sing about girls now; god help us.

I actually really like this evolution. Their latest bunch of albums have a very timeless feel to them. Harking back to the essence of pop music.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2013



7326 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice work Jonny. I've not listened to this much but so far I more or less agree. Disappointing.

"From a man known for his lyrical prowess it can only be a joke, but then again the band now spells
song titles like they were received via texts from a fiftysomething parent, so the question remains."

^I love this bit.^

Edit: Just noticed the NME gave it 10/10 and said it's probably the album of the decade. Yawwwwwwn.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2013



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

NME gave it 10/10 and said it's probably the album of the decade


Now there's a career destroying article if I've ever seen one.

As usual, Rachael has made everything read much better on the MD version and shown how useless I am. I'll merge the two later.

bloc
September 5th 2013



34780 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I actually thought this would be the album where the band would start to get kind of bad, but I'm glad I was wrong.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

tommygun
September 5th 2013



24588 Comments


This all culminates in “No. 1 Party Anthem:” a song as good as it is deemed toungue-in-cheek, simply because it’s hard to tell.

tongue

Their self-imposed exile from pop music’s form of Overton window doesn’t seem to have payed off at all.

paid

good review

Digging: Broods - Evergreen



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