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Review: “AM” by Arctic Monkeys

Review: “AM” by Arctic Monkeys

Review: “AM” by Arctic Monkeys
September 11
22:51 2013

Matt Wood / Copy Chief

If you asked Arctic Monkeys lead singer Alex Turner what the band’s new album sounds like, it may leave you with more questions than you had before you asked.

In an interview with “NME,” a music magazine, he claimed the album sounds “like a Dr. Dre beat, but we’ve given it an Ike Turner bowl-cut and sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster.”

Arctic Monkeys’ fifth studio album “AM” is further proof that the band is persistently reinventing itself and developing new sounds.

With each album the band has released, Arctic Monkeys has shifted its sound in different directions, from the band’s original indie garage-rock roots, full of British snark, to more mature sounds and lyrics on “Humbug.”

“AM” is tough to pin down genre wise, but categorizes somewhere between “Psychedelic Rock,” and “Stoner Rock,” because of the influence of drugs both lyrically and sonically.

Lead track “Do I Wanna Know?” is barebones, with a single guitar part repeating for a majority of the song, paired with the simplest drumbeat of any Arctic Monkeys track.

This regression into simplicity makes the song powerful as it slowly builds up, adding different instruments and harmonies, culminating in the last chorus.

For the next song, “R U Mine?” drummer Matt Helders comes back with ferocity, bringing the most aggressive drums on the album, and a chorus that features hints of long-time friends of the band, “Queens of the Stone Age.”

The fourth track, “Arabella,” seems to be one of the few missteps of the album. It begins with a simple drumbeat and bass line, but the chorus is a complete diversion that doesn’t seem to fit at all.

The chords are very reminiscent of Black Sabbath, and the entire chorus just feels strangely out of place compared to the sound created on the rest of the album.

Instead of the slower, strong beats, it feels like it’s trying hard to replicate a sound that just doesn’t coalesce with the other tracks.

Turner channels his inner Elton John on “No. 1 Party Anthem,” which, contrary to the name, is a ballad that is nestled in the middle of the album.

It’s a good antidote to “Arabella,” because instead of feeling forced, the ballad feels absolutely effortless for Turner, allowing his lyrics to shine over the low-tempo song.

In it, Turner laments the woes of a jaded romantic in an inebriated stupor, singing, “Drunken monologues, confused because it’s not like I’m falling in love, I just want you to do me no good.”

It’s reminiscent of ballads like “Piledriver Waltz” from the band’s previous release, “Suck it and See,” and feels very appropriate in breaking up the first and second half of the album.

The lyrical themes of the album center on Turner’s tumultuous love life, but it never feels as though he’s complaining or feeling sorry for himself.

He functions more as an observer, telling tales of his troubles and recognizing his own immaturity at times.

“Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” embodies all the elements of “Stoner Rock,” and is possibly the best song on the album. With a slower tempo and a slinking bass line, it depicts Turner calling an apathetic love interest at 3 a.m., when his wits aren’t exactly about him.

The album is very polarized overall, because the songs that are good are original, catchy and very well put together, but the songs that don’t fit are very obvious standouts and a bit jarring.
Though the unity of the album as a whole is lacking, the tracks worth listening to are more than worth it.

Feature photo courtesy of arcticmonkeys.com

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