Thursday, 5 September 2013

Flynndie Reviews: #40 Arctic Monkeys - AM

Written 5th September 2013:

Arctic Monkeys - AM

The Band: Alex Turner (lead vocals\guitar), Jamie Cook (lead guitar), Nick O’Malley (bass), Matt Helders (drums)

Next Monday sees the return of Arctic Monkeys with their much-anticipated 5th studio album ‘AM’, however the band have decided to stream the album early this week with iTunes (which you can find here giving fans a chance to hear an early preview of the new record.   Arriving back on the scene in 2005 with a self-titled EP, it wasn’t long before the Arctic’s reached critical acclaim with their excellent and successful debut album ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That is What I’m Not’ featuring fast-paced guitar anthems laced with Alex Turner’s intelligent, witty lyrics that many found they could relate to, before the band returned in 2007 with 2nd album ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ quickly establishing them as one of the hottest bands in the country.  2009’s ‘Humbug’ was a bit more of a trippy, darker affair, while the band’s 4th album ‘Suck It and See’ (previously reviewed here) saw a fine blend of Indie rock and somewhat more mellow pop tunes which again seemed to go down well with fans.  So how does the band’s latest album ‘AM’ hold up then? 


1.     Do I Wanna Know?
2.     R U Mine?
3.     One for the Road
4.     Arabella
5.     I Want It All
6.     No. 1 Party Anthem
7.     Mad Sounds
8.     Fireside
9.     Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
10.  Snap Out Of It
11.  Knee Socks
12.  I Wanna Be Yours

Opening with come-back single ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ we’re instantly in familiar Arctic Monkey’s territory here, with a slow-tempo yet ballsy, catchy guitar riff being the main sticking point to the track.  It’s a very instant and catchy track and saw a fine return for the band working as an excellent come-back single.  ‘R U Mine’ was previously a stand-alone single but again proving popular with fans has seen its inclusion on the new record as well.  More up-tempo than ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ the track has a scuzzy feel to it with guitar’s from Alex and Jamie battling along and thunderous drumming from Matt with the track’s featured lyric at its chorus “but what I really wanna know…is R U Mine?”  ‘One for the Road’ opens with the track-title repeated twice and features a more downbeat, spooky guitar rhythm to it, much more subtle in its approach, with a low-fi guitar riff picking away throughout.  It has quite a feel as the type of style of track the band used more on their third album ‘Humbug’ with a haunting feel to it.

‘Arabella’ is at first another soft and subtle track initially driven by percussion before a more rocky bridge “My days end best when the sunset gets behind itself/That little lady sitting on the passenger side” and has a prog-rock guitar riff midway through, while fifth track ‘I Want It All’ is pure glam-rock!  Featuring a guitar riff lifted directly from the 70’s that T-Rex themselves would be proud of at its heart; it’s a fun, foot-stomping romp of a track that fits nicely midway through the album and all the better for it.  On the contrast, despite the track-title ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ is surprisingly a soft guitar/piano ballad making me think the track-title itself is somewhat tongue-in-cheek and part of the twisted humour the band have been known for in the past.  ‘Mad Sounds’ meanwhile is the most stripped down track on the record so far, whimsical and dreamy it captures the vibes of sailing down a river carefree on a sunny afternoon.  It’s very similar in style, to the mellower, stripped-down tracks found on the second half of ‘Suck It and See’.  Next we have ‘Fireside’ and this is an excellent semi-acoustic track, with a smoothly-flowing melody painted with poignant lyrics depicting thoughts on a relationship “I can’t explain but I wanna try/There’s this image of you/and it goes dancing by/In the morning and the night time”.  It’s a lovely track and one of the highlights of the album for me.

Recent single ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’, as the track-title suggests is a bit more of a psychedelic, trippy affair from the Monkeys.  It’s a much darker track with the track’s protagonist clearly pining for somebody else “Now it’s three in the morning and I’m trying to change your mind/Left you multiple missed calls and to my message you reply/Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”, it’s another slow, subtle but effective track.  ‘Snap Out of It’ lifts the mood more, with a more upbeat swing melody, it’s a cool, calm, understated track and works well here.  Penultimate track ‘Knee Socks’ is another slower, darker number also graduating from the school of third album ‘Humbug’ while album closer ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ sees the band putting music to the poem written by punk-poet John Cooper Clarke.  Another slower ballad type of track it has subtle hints of ‘505’ from ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ in its style of music and is a really effective album closer making nice use of the lyrics used in Clarke’s poetry.   

So in summary then I feel this record picks up nicely from ‘Suck It and See’ with a good blend and mixture from typical Arctic Monkey Indie rock tracks, particularly in the style found on ‘Humbug’ but also with some more serene and chilled out tracks midway through the album.  For me it’s the more rocky tracks such as ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, ‘R U Mine?’, ‘I Want It All’ and in particular ‘Fireside’ that are the highlights on the record for me but in my opinion they still just don’t quite match some of the heights of the first two Arctic’s records in particular which will always be a tough act for the band to top!  None-the-less there are still great tracks here all the same further cementing Arctic Monkey’s as one of the great bands of the past decade for sure and Alex Turner is certainly becoming a song-writer of a generation in my opinion.  Therefore I’m going to award this one a solid 8 Mad Sounds out of 10 as it’s another well written record by the band with a good range of tracks and seems to be a grower more with each listen.

One for the Road

Track 1 ‘Do I Wanna Know’

Track 9 ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’  

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