Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Arctic Monkeys - AM

Arctic Monkeys aren't a band that sit still and rest on their laurels. 

After the astronomical success of their d├ębut record, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, broke records around the world, they could have very easily sat back, taken a long holiday and decided to rinse and repeat the same material. 

Three records later and the reality couldn't be anything more different. With each new record comes a new angle, a defining sound that encapsulates exactly where the band is.

2007's Fluorescent Adolescent saw them erupt with energy and hormones, their sound decidedly loud and brash. Record number three was 2009's divisive (and brilliant) desert-rock inspired Humbug before 2011's more melodic and ballad-driven Suck it and See steered them towards a softer, romantic sound.

So, where does AM sit amongst this spectrum? And more importantly, is it any good?

First of all, a summary. From the pounding thump-thump intro of lead single 'Do I Wanna Know?' to the harmonic finale of 'I Wanna Be Yours', AM is Arctic Monkeys through and through. There is no mistaking that this record is the work of Messrs Turner, Cook, O'Malley and Helders. However, once again, there is no denying that this is a fresh sound for the boys from Sheffield.

One of things that stands out most from this new record is the seriously dirty and hip-swaying riffs that dance around and drip with malice. Things start off with a bang with the brilliant one-two punch that is 'Do I Wanna Know?' and 'R U Mine?', the former of which is one of the strongest ways to kick off a record I've heard since The White Stripes and 'Seven Nation Army'.

'One For the Road', 'Arabella' and 'I Want It All' are all fantastic Arctic Monkeys tracks that keep the beats coming. It's hard to find anything to fault with them; they're all brilliantly groovy and dark tracks that play host to wonderful guitar and drum work.

One of my favourite tracks from the record is 'Arabella', a very Josh Homme-inspired ballad that has some very sexy beats and clever lyrics - "She's got a Barbarella silver swimsuit / And when she needs to shelter from reality she takes a dip in my day dreams" croons Turner.

Track 6, 'No. 1 Party Anthem' stands out as something a little different. It's a good track with a nice melody that recalls Suck it and See or Alex's Submarine EP. In fact, add a bit of Miles Kane in there and you've got the first track for another Last Shadow Puppets record.

'Mad Sounds' is another slower tempo track that will be a winner at festivals and concerts whilst 'Fireside' gets the feet tapping once again and introduces a fresh electro-pop sounding beat.

'Snap Out of It' is about as close Turner has gotten to writing a straight-up pop song, but that is by no means a criticism. It's a really catchy tune with some great riffs; it isn't in the same raw and uncontrolled mould as anything you'd find on their first record and some purists might take offence at this direction.

The same can be said for penultimate track, 'Knee Socks', a track that is wonderfully into funk and disco. Regardless, I really like the funky and catchy direction that is a lot more polished and refined. The best way to describe AM is that is sits somewhere in between the darkness of Humbug and the pop-infused ballads of Suck It And See.

All things added together and you get the most complete and cohesive Arctic Monkeys record yet. There is no sore thumb that sticks out as not fitting in with the rest of the record. AM shows that the band aren't happy to rehash old material and instead continue to readjust and reinvent themselves.

With wall-to-wall tunes, dark, snaking riffs and hammering drums, AM is one of the best (and coolest) albums of the year. Brilliant stuff once again from Sheffield's finest.

Arctic Monkeys - AM: 9/10

Download these: Arabella, Knee Socks, Fireside and Why Do You Only Call Me When You're High?

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