2011’s ‘Suck it and see’ was undoubtedly one of the best albums around at the time. One of 2013’s best albums will definitely be ’AM’. With the bands maturity both in personality and musically shining throughout, there’s something for everyone on this album. The album is a lot more than just indie. It’s powerful and unashamedly; includes a new hip-hop vibe on several of the tracks which might not sound like the sort of direction you’d want from Sheffield’s finest export since…steel(?) but it works. Don’t ask me how or why, just trust me.
First track from the 12 strong tracklist is ‘Do I Wanna Know?’. You’ve no doubt heard the song due to critics going crazy about it when the song was released earlier this year. You might of even heard us play it at Transmission. I’ve said all I’ve got to say about this song when I reviewed it for the site upon its release. I’d only be repeating myself so you can read that here.
In February 2012, Arctic Moneys released ‘R U Mine?’ out of nowhere. There was no hints, no advertising, nothing on the agenda as far as people were aware. R U Mine? it turns out, would be our first glimpse in to what we can expect from this highly anticipated fifth studio album. It’s edgy, grungy, rock ‘n’ roll, fresh and more importantly than all of those adjectives…the song is brilliant.
So, we’ve got through two songs we’ve heard and enjoyed lots, now it’s time to find out what the band really have to offer us on this album. Track 3, entitled, ‘One For The Road’ doesn’t sound like Arctic Monkeys. It’s slow, funky build-up is a completely new dimension for the four-piece and they obviously, master it. I’ve just said it doesn’t sound like Arctic Monkeys but at the same time…it’s standard Monkeys. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it. I hope.
‘Arabella’ is up next and during my first listen, this is one of the tracks that stuck out most for me. I can’t tell you why, I just found myself thoroughly enjoying its insanely catchy riff. Especially the one towards the end of the track. Arctic Monkeys have become funky, hip-hop machines and I’m bloody loving it so far. This track will make you want to pick up some drumsticks or a guitar and just have a jam session. It certainly did me and I can only play the tambourine!
Following on from the funk of track 4, we’re on to the next one, ‘I want It All’. This track is modern glam-rock at its finest. This is the foot-tap inducing track on the album. It’s chilled, edgy and catchy. As per, we’ve got the incredible guitar ruffs perfectly entwined with the brilliant beats from the drums.
‘No.1 Party Anthem‘ is a really cheesy song-title. But, it’s a song-title by Arctic Monkeys so their coolness counteracts the cheese. When I first heard this, I thought my iTunes had fucked up and decided to play Alex Turner’s Submarine Soundtrack because this could definitely have been on there. In fact, I’m not even 100% sure it wasn’t! (It wasn’t. I was just trying to inject a bit of wit in to this review). This track is beautiful. I’ve not felt as relaxed as I do when listening to this for a long time. That’s the thing with the power of Turner’s voice. Yeah, it might’ve “changed” according to a lot of fans and critics but it doesn’t matter. Turner could say anything and make it sound beautiful. He’s a poet (and he’s know’s it). He’s our generations John Cooper Clarke, but more on that chap later.
‘Mad Sounds’ is another slow track. Another slow, beautiful, relaxed track. In fact, it’s very similar to the last track but this isn’t a bad thing at all. Following a couple of slower tracks, we’re back to the drum heavy songs. ‘Fireside’ is lyrically brilliant. “There’s all these secrets that I can’t keep. Like in my heart, there’s that hotel suite. And you lived there so long, it’s kind of strange now you’re gone.” The song is clearly about a love that got away. Shall we just assume it’s about Alexa Chung?
‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ was the last single to be released and was accompanied by a very surreal, trippy video. This was probably the first song we heard that had that new hip-hop sound to it. Oh, and there’s a lot of funk too. Both the track and the video are funking brilliant!! The best thing about this song is that we can probably all relate to it. We’ve all sent that one text we shouldn’t have done when drunk but we did it anyway because at the time we thought it was definitely a sensible idea. Damn you alcohol!
Another instant favourite next in the form of ‘Snap Out Of It’. This track is so reminiscent of The Last Shadow Puppets (Alex Turner’s side project with Miles Kane) it makes you pine for another album by the dream duo. This is in fact the catchiest song on the album and I’m looking forward to seeing it live in November. Every aspect of the song moulds together in unison to provide an instant hit.
Turner did some guitar on a track from Queens of the Stone Age’s latest album. Josh Homme returns the favour by providing some backing vocals and guitar on penultimate track, ‘Knee Socks’. It’s as heavy as you’d expect what with Homme’s presence and contribution. It’s a great track and should be played loud.
So, we’ve reached the final song of the album, ‘I Wanna Be Yours’. It’s my favourite track on the album as well as being the worst song on the album. I’ll explain why it’s my favourite first. I’m a big fan of the genius poet, John cooper Clarke and I know Alex Turner is heavily inspired by him as well. So much so that he took some lines from John Cooper Clarke’s poem, I Wanna Be Yours… When I say took some lines, I mean he covered the poem and added a verse here and there and gave it a chorus which adds loads to this already genius poem. So, why do I also think it’s the worst song on the album? Well…because it’s the last song. The album has finished and this means I’ll have to wait for at least another year before I get to hear some new Arctic Monkeys material. Until then though, I’m going to listen to AM in the AM and PM.
If this album proves one thing, it’s that Arctic Monkeys are still learning, experimenting and finding themselves. On its release, I don’t know what genre you’re going to find it in. It’s as far away from indie as they’ve ever been. I actually think they’re going to have to create a ‘perfection’ section to put it in. This is exactly what AM is. Absolute fucking perfection. Did I need to swear? Yes, absolute perfection just doesn’t emphasise exactly how good this album is. Just make sure you purchase it on Monday.
Words by Robert Smith (@robertmsmith)