Arctic Monkeys
AM


3.5
great

Review

by LaughingSkull USER (32 Reviews)
May 27th, 2014 | 16 replies | 849 views


Release Date: 09/06/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Riffs, finally

3 of 5 thought this review was well written

Prior to the release of their fifth album, Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner had stated on several occasions in interviews that he had always desired to be able to produce huge arena-caliber songs. In spite of the success of the band's previous albums, and especially their debut, it was clear that Turner was still dissatisfied with some elements of his songwriting. And I happen to readily agree with this -- The ever-present acute lyrical wit found on older recordings cannot be denied and is a merit in itself, in the way it touched on nightlife and romantic sensibilities; However, the instrumental aspect of the band's sound rarely veered outside of the comfortable alternation between hastily strung together faux-punk chords and the strumming of clichedly wistful arpeggios.

What AM does differently is that it brings actual riffs to the table. And it does this with commendable success. Guitar hooks like the one found on Do I Wanna Know? are bound to get listeners to hum or chant along with it. Meanwhile the dynamic and energetic riffs on R U Mine? makes one wonder how Turner can sing and play them at the same time. Arabella has a short and sweet solo, although its campy character makes one feel like its inclusion was just-for-the-sake. Speaking of this song, Alex Turner takes the chance to bring out the closet Black Sabbath fanboy in him, as one of the riffs is a reference to the metal godfathers' War Pigs. During live performances, the band would straight-up play the riff from War Pigs as homage, although the allusion is, unfortunately, probably lost on the vast majority of the audience. Lastly, I want to also pay attention to Knee Socks, whose jumpy and evocative guitar line and dreamy feel manage to conjure up a very genuine melancholy. Josh Homme, of Queens of the Stone Age fame, makes a vocal contribution in the bridge here, and it absolutely elevates the song to a whole new level of impact.

This hook-based formula is definitely successful in bringing a larger audience to the band. At the expense of shedding its hardcore fanbase of hipsters and scene kids, AM has successfully drawn in a more international (especially US-based) and diverse crowd. Apparently mosh pits are now a regular thing at Arctic Monkeys shows, and the audience's intensity on gigs such as the infamous Earls Court shows of late 2013 was described as nearly lethal. This opening-up to a broader audience has been criticised by many, but it does fit with the band's plan and is a smooth progression. It has to be noted, however, that the employment of the formula is only limited, as many songs on the album, such as Fireside and Mad Sounds, are a retreat into the campy, depressed territory of previous albums, and as such are merely inferior complements to the singles that truly drive this record forward. If those singles were only a test for how well the turn in sound would be received, then the test's unquestionable success can be a very promising factor in making the band explore more of that vein in its future. This is something I'd like to see.

The previously mentioned trademark lyrical sharpness pervades this record, like all AM albums prior, although the focus on a single theme (in this case, romantic affairs), can get a bit annoying. In the end, this is expected, since the band thrives well on being in the highlife ruckus that mass media so much likes to flash its spotlight on; apparently keeping this personal element in the lyrics is deemed by Turner & co. as the safest bet, and that's how the lack of incentive for lyrical exploration and expansion is justified, for now. However, if the turn in sound also signifies a more adventurous lyrical approach for future albums, I predict an even greater success for the band. That is, unless cocaine gets the better of them in the meantime.

Recommended tracks:
Do I Wanna Know?
R U Mine?
Arabella
Knee Socks



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Comments:Add a Comment 
fallenbird
May 27th 2014



3713 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mad Sounds and Fireside are the best on here though. Also you never mentioned Snap Out Of It with is top 3 on here.

Digging: The Red Paintings - The Revolution is Never Coming

tommygun
May 27th 2014



24553 Comments


'Riffs, finally'

is this a joke? FWN has riffs for days

Digging: Broods - Evergreen

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
May 27th 2014



5415 Comments


Welcome back, laughingskull. It's been too long.

Digging: Jimmy Eat World - Clarity

MrSirLordGentleman
May 27th 2014



4307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Do I Wanna Know's video, is like... drugs

Digging: Weezer - Weezer

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
May 27th 2014



2072 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

your use of bolding is really fucking distracting

Digging: Aphex Twin - Come To Daddy

Killerhit
May 27th 2014



5249 Comments


uh, one for the road as well

and in snap out of it turner really brings out his poppy, thom yorke-ish self

Green Baron
May 27th 2014



19710 Comments


Why'd You Only Call Me's video is like, drugs

Digging: Royal Blood - Royal Blood

Killerhit
May 27th 2014



5249 Comments


arabella's video is, like... pretty normal

Green Baron
May 27th 2014



19710 Comments


there's this part where he's trippin and he sees a bunch of guys hump someone, and then some dude gets a gay bj in a car, it's ridiculous

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
May 27th 2014



2072 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you said you gotta be up in the morning gonna have an early night and you started to bomb and baby why'd you only call me when you're high

Killerhit
May 27th 2014



5249 Comments


baron what was ur favorite track on this album

trackbytrackreviews
May 27th 2014



868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Meanwhile the dynamic and energetic riffs on R U Mine? makes one wonder how Turner can sing and play them at the same time"

Are you implying the riffs are complicated because, well, they aren't.

RobbaqPL
May 28th 2014



158 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, seriously. I only just started playing the guitar using Rocksmith, and R U Mine? is there, and it's one of the easiest songs in the game.
I don't know, there's something off about this review.

Tunaboy45
May 28th 2014



2035 Comments


I particularly like the goregrind riffs in "do I wanna know?"

Digging: Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

Killerhit
May 28th 2014



5249 Comments


yeah but the death metal feel to snap out of it

VheissuCrisis
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2014



906 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like that you mentioned the lyrical themes of their earlier/first album in particular. Having lived at Hunters Bar for 3 years, and having visited many of the same places Turner and co did, their debut struck a chord which their later album haven't with me. This is a step in the right direction though, might 3.5.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor



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