Review Summary: Rise and shine
Ever since the Arctic Monkeys made themselves known in 2005, one could be forgiven for viewing them with parentally-tinged spectacles. Part of their initial charm was seeing these sensitive but no less cynical lads be thrown into the spotlight and still come out swinging. It’s the same kind of pride that makes a mother weep when her children fly the nest. Or that might be tears of joy. That’s family business, I won’t pry.
In recent years Arctic Monkeys have swapped the post-industrial landscapes of Sheffield for the sunnier climes of Los Angeles, a city that spins a surreal web to outsiders; where Hollywood myths perpetuate and gangs of the plastic and insincere air-kiss their way into oblivion.
Indeed, it is a sense of oblivion that is at times captured on AM
. The album’s three promo tracks, “Do I Wanna Know"”, “R U Mine"” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High"” (which proves, if anything, that Alex Turner likes to ask a lot of questions) lay some deep, drunken and chemically-enhanced questions on the listener. Each song is replete with a brooding menace which shows a certain sense of individual maturity, just the ‘wrong’ one; the bad love, drug-laden one we all really crave.
For all of its alleged faults, their third LP Humbug
has shown itself to be an important part of their transition in sound. The group have evidently learnt a lot from their new step-father, Josh Homme. Be it in the harmonised backing vocals on “One For The Road”, the dash of “War Pigs” on the bridge of “Arabella” or on the addictive stomp and cosmic solo on I Want It All. The Stones-referencing “…2000 light years from home” line that segues into the solo is nothing short of magic.
…but it wouldn’t be an Arctic Monkeys record without some down-at-home references to the rat race they left behind at home. There can’t be that many Thunderbirds’ references knocking around in music at the moment, but the Tracey Island mention on “R U Mine"” can’t pass without a wry smile.
Similarly, “One For The Road” and its talk of ‘relegation zones’ and “I Wanna Be Yours’” double-whammy of ‘leccy meters’ and ‘Ford Cortina’ provide evidence of a band and lyricist who…*cliché klaxon*…haven’t forgotten their roots.
As such AM
is a very keen and well-referenced document in what being an international super-band means in this day and age; a scattergun mix of the best of both worlds. Moments of sarcasm contained therein with “No. 1 Party Anthem” (which it isn’t) and “Mad Sounds” (which, in reality, contains none) is just the icing on the cake for an album that both delivers and promises in great amounts.