Current reviews of the new Arctic Monkeys album AM range from good to excellent, and I am proud to say that this review is going to be no different; the Monkey’s fifth studio album is nothing short of inspired, bold and brave.
Kicking off with the single Do I Wanna Know? (I say kicking off, the riff is probably their slowest to date), the drums and guitar immediately suck you into a new realm for AM. If Suck it and See was an apt title for their last album, Suck it would be equally appropriate for AM. They felt confident enough to open their headline slot on the Pyramid Stage with this tune mere days after it was released, and already everyone was singing along.
R U Mine? is already a worldwide crowd pleaser, briefly bringing fans back to the familiar before sneaking off again into One For The Road, with a cheeky falsetto introduction from Alex Turner with the guitars and drums showing us the almost perfect middle ground between the two lead singles Do I Wanna Know? and Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?.
Arabella stands out for me as one of the finest Arctic Monkey’s tracks to date; a tongue-twisting, psychedelic, pop, metal cauldron. Sound confusing? Well, it actually isn’t, the song’s very merit comes with the ease in which it flows through Lennon inspired psychedelia to Black Sabbath riffs, RHCP-esque guitar solos and back again with the grace of a concerto. The following track is titled I Want It All (featuring Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age) and I think that with AM, The Monkeys might just have it. I Want it All boats the lyric ‘leaving me listening to the Stones, 2000 light years from home’, whilst obviously serving as a reference to the Rolling Stones infamous psychedelic attempt Their Satanic Majesties Request, (in particular 2000 Light Years From Home) the Arctic Monkeys really do seem roughly that far from their debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. It is only now however, that we can appreciate what an appropriate title that was.
The midway point on the album is home to the ironically titled No. 1 Party Anthem telling that some things, like Turner’s wit, will never change. The second half of the album is equally as good as the first with Mad Sounds harking back to Suck It and See whilst Fireside changes the game again, leading nicely on to WYOCMWYH. I’m going to leave Knee Socks as a surprise, although by this point nothing is surprising.
The album concludes with I Wanna Be Yours, originally a poem penned by punk poet and literary genius John Cooper Clarke. All previous attempts to put his poetry to music (as he would happily tell you) have been nothing short of dire. This AM song stands alone for me as the only exception. The album, too, stands alone as an exceptional work that leaves you wanting more, and most of all, knowing that you will get more. As great as this album is, it still doesn’t feel like they have peaked in terms of songwriting or musicianship. It feels much more like the dawning of a new era; this is the Arctic Monkeys’ Exile on Main St. a defining moment in an exceptional band’s career, a music journalist’s nightmare; you can no longer pigeon-hole the Arctic Monkeys.