- 3:04 pm - Thu, Sep 12, 2013
- 8 notes
It’s been along road for the British golden boys. From errupting onto the scene with rambunctious, knife fight boy rock nearly a decade ago to taking the Olympic stage in 2012, The Arctic Monkeys have learned some lessons, got cleaned, found ginger jesus (Josh Homme) and things are definitely good from what I hear. AM is an R-rated cut of slick midnight alt.rock that doesn’t all together forget the band’s roots but quite clearly makes a style shift in tone and maturity.
On the band’s last record, Suck It and See, The Arctic Monkeys employed a britpop supernova complete with wailing, cathedral-filling guitars, swooping basslines, and syrupy love-struck lyrics; AM writes another book entirely. Leadman Alex Turner once said he never wanted to be cool, but it’s clear that was a lie. From the outset of their latest, The Arctic Monkeys drift an understated cool with “Do I Wanna Know?” which delivers far more lusty gusto and sex appeal than anything the band has yet produced. In fact, the Arctic Monkeys seem to be channeling an even sexier, anglicized Phoenix. R&B-esque basslines and steady, minimal drums make their way on to the midnight grooves of “Knee Socks”, “One For The Road” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” all the while making convincing bedroom anthems.
Elsewhere on AM, the exponential maturation of the band’s sound is evident with each influence they’ve sewn into their DNA. Sometime out in California with Uncle Homme have lead to ribbons of Qotsa-inspired crispy-psychedelia on “I Want It All” and “Snap Out of It”, particularly the fantastic use of falsetto vocals on the entire trip. The cleverly re-purposed use of the War Pig's instrumental break on “Arabella” (down to the 8ths on a hi-hat) and the seamless jump back into fitted GQ suits is impressive and evocative of the tightness to which this album enjoys.
There are breaks in the album where the band clearly isn’t above syrupy pop which is evident on “Mad Sounds” and “No.1 Party Anthem”. Even here the band has grown, Mad Sounds is particularly interesting as an estranged experiment in cross-pollination between british pop and mowtown soul. Creative focus always pays. A few committed themes and moods goes along way, and AM is proof.
The boys have grown up. Those solely seeking the chatty, caffeine punky pop of 2006 may not be fully satisfied. With only “R U Mine?” dedicated fans of older monkeys incarnations may be outright disappointed. However, the Arctic Monkeys aren’t chasing old ghosts or desperately trying to emulate similar success on wildly different ideas. AM is a testament to absolute confidence and talent, and that alone should be enough to give it a try.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆