For Fans Of
If you track the musical progression of the Artic Monkeys from point A: Whatever People Say I am That’s What I’m Not, to point B: their newest release, AM, just about everything has changed. Alex Turner’s vocals have lost their smarmy edginess and have taken on a haughty smolder. All the youthful energy, instant likability and sarcastic lyrical charm of their first two albums has been rejected for a slow and calculated turn to hazy indie pop. AM is a concentrated dose of the kind of sound Arctic Monkey’s have been trying to achieve since the release of Humbug. It’s sensual and smooth and grows on you slowly, but unfortunately, with this sound, the band will never be as surprising and exciting as they were in their youth.
The record kicks of with ‘Do I Wanna Know,’ which dashes all hopes that the Arctic Monkeys will recover their appreciation for their alt rock roots in AM. Alex’s deep, matured vocals are bluesy and underscored with soft guitar reverberations and a falsetto echo. There is a distinct funk influence on AM, however any sort of catchiness, hook or upbeat rhythm is sparse, if not entirely absent.
‘R U Mine’ was the first song to be released off AM, and it picks up the mood of the record for a brief, fleeting few minutes. In a sea of tracks that are bland and subversive, ‘R U Mine,’ and later track ‘Snap Out of It’ with a heavy layering of guitar distortions and percussions, are imprinted with a fossil of The Arctic Monkey’s modest beginnings.
Despite this, ‘One For The Road’ and ‘Arabella’ retreat back into the apathetic and moody style that dominates the record. While both songs achieve some form of memorability, especially with the range that Turner’s vocals demonstrate and the technicality of the instrumentals, it is the lack of substantial appeal that is its undoing. The lack of passion is somewhat strange, considering that AM consists entirely of lusty, desirous and borderline obsessive love songs.
The ironically titled ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ is in fact a sleepy, 3am love ballad that seems to be Turner’s depiction of the listlessness of drunken, late night hook ups. Similar to ‘Mad Sounds,’ it quickly reminds the listener of Turner’s ever-present cynicism, which crops up again in stand out track, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’
It would be easy to say that AM is the Arctic Monkey’s attempt at something more accessible, but if anything AM is more distanced from commercial music than anything the Arctic Monkeys have done before. It’s very possible that with AM and its hazy indie pop sound, the Arctic Monkeys are trying to avoid recreating their old hit records and instead are marching themselves in the opposite direction and into indie pop territory. It’s certainly not what everybody asked for, but if you set AM apart from the band’s musical history, it’s an impressive achievement, nonetheless.
Do I Wanna Know?
R U Mine?
I Want It All
No. 1 Party Anthem
Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
Snap Out Of It
I Wanna Be Yours