Arctic Monkeys – AM (2013)
I chose to write my review about this album, because it practically restored my faith into humanity and to good music being still made. I discovered this album in November, last year – in that time I really was disappointed what was considered good music - having almost lost all hope of hearing something new that wouldn’t make my ears hurt. Fortunately I found this amazing album on „Elu 24“ (why I was there, I don’t want to know). Arctic Monkeys wasn’t completely new to me back then, I had listened to some of their songs from the album „Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007)“. I however can’t say I had enjoyed them as much before, as I do now thanks to „AM“. Nevertheless I gave „AM“ a try and listened to „Arabella“ firstly, a game changer for me… . Well the album on „Elu 24“ was however brought up because of the music video, where one could see a fair share of naked boobs.
But now about the band. Arctic Monkeys is an English indie rock band going back to 2002. Alex Turner (lead vocals, guitar), Jamie Cook (lead guitar, rhythm), Nick O’Malley (bass guitar, backing vocals), Matt Helders (drums, backing vocals) and former member Andy Nicholson (bass guitar, backing vocals) came together in Sheffield after meeting at Stocksbridge High School. They have so far released five studio albums“ “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” (2006), “Favourite Worst Nightmare” (2007), “Humbug” (2009), “Suck It and See” (2011) and “AM” (2013), all of which debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart.
„AM” features the following singles: “R U Mine?”, “Do I Wanna Know?” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”. It also features guest appearances by Josh Homme, Bill Ryder-Jones and Pete Thomas. It was produced by James Ford and co-produced by Ross Orton at Sage & Sound Recording in Los Angeles and Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, California“.
Having listened to their previous albums I can say that „AM“ shows a whole new side of the Arctic Monkeys, one can hear them getting more mature and understanding what they want to do and how to do it properly. This record is beyond doubt the best of their career. I liked a point Mike Williams brought out in his review – he said that this album is a cornerstone, not the peak of their career, that is still to come, from here they will only get better. The release of this album marks the point where they will no longer be defined by a genre, but they will be seen as artists. Before one would/could categorize them as an Indie-rock/rock/indie band, but no more. What they did here was pure genius – 41minutes and 57 seconds of it really.
The brains behind the album was mostly Alex Turner. Let me quote Mike Williams once more: “And the lyrics… oh, maaaan. At times they sound like they were written by a man with a burning hard-on who wants – or rather needs – to savagely fuck your body, mind and soul”. They are that good, they really are. Already back in 2011 while listening to the soundtrack from the movie „Submarine (2011)“ Turner revealed his genius. This guy just keeps getting better and better. Can’t wait to hear what he will come up in 10 years. And it’s not just the ability to write music, he’s also the leading vocalist in Arctic Monkeys. He’s unique voice and charming accent make it a perfect combo.
As said before, it’s quite amazing how much they have matured in their music since their first album, it is a whole new cognation/feel, a brand new and much improved Arctic Monkeys. They sound just so maddeningly brilliant.
While listening to them – the structure of a song is near perfection, it isn’t loaded with unnecessary embellishments. The steady beat (from hand clapping and tambourine) with the help of some drums and guitars added to the leading vocals of Alex Turner makes them unstoppable. Just listen to “Do I want to know” – the intro of a smooth beat which soon is joined by a guitar tune is enough to charm even the most emotionless bastard. But Alex Turner, damn that voice, it brings back memories from the time music was still music. The vocals are bittersweet, but smooth as honey. His voice is almost hypnotic, taking the listeners back in time. The music video of “Arabella” characterizes the change Arctic Monkeys have gone through. In addition to the fact that they sound unique and awesome, the video doubles everything. It’s just so rebel, the black-and-white theme adds an extra vehement touch. It reminds me of the times when true rock was valued, a time I value and dearly miss. The music and the video of “Arabella” reeks of smoke, sultry – it’s vigorous and firm. It’s a reminder to all those mellow pop icons of how it is really done, and what it should feel and taste like. It’s bittersweet and thoroughbred sound.
However, the entire album is, to me, concentrated around romance – Alex Turner seems to be a hopeless romantic living in a not so romantic world. “AM” goes beyond seemingly innocent flirting, dancing closely at some den-of-a-club, bad decisions after drinking too much and the acrimony in the morning to come. The essence of the album is almost too well stated in “R U Mine?” the lyrics go: “are you mine tomorrow, or just mine tonight?” It’s about sex and love and passion filled with boiling emotions. This album is a whole, which must be listened to from the beginning to the end, shuffle at least for me, ruins it.
“AM” also strikes with diversity – songs are different, they do not feel heard or start repeating themselves. The creativity and variability is stunning. The album just won’t let the tension drop for a second. The audience is always excited and waiting for what’s to come. When “Arabella” strikes with sultriness and its utterly amazing riotous sound/lyrics, “No.1 Party Anthem & Mad Sounds“ take down the pace and show a peaceful side of Alex Turner. I dare to say that the soundtrack of „Submarine“ is quite close to these two. They are mild, smooth and beautiful to listen. „One for the road“ feels rather sour and with its „ooh-oooohs“ reminds of their past taking us back to the album “Humbug”. So it feels that each song offers something new, yet the album remains a complete set.
“AM” is a fresh and exciting album featuring brilliant lyrics and incredible sound. It’s a stepping-stone for the Arctic Monkeys. The album has depth, balls to experiment summing up to an utterly satisfying record. I would like to end with a quote from another review – “there is something very special about this album. It’s that rare thing, a record that defies normal music adjectives like sweet or happy or eerie or sad. They’re still bittersweet, still lusty, but also lithe and suave and slinky and sexy and dark and intoxicating. If AM was a hairstyle, it would be messy. If AM was an item of clothing, it would be studded leather shorts. If AM were a photo, it’s of a girl with messy hair and studded leather shorts with her hands by her side, legs open, maybe mid-walk“.
Oh yeah, and if you have heard the „Bacardi rum“ commercial from TV3 and were wondering why it was so seductive and good sounding – well it’s because of the fact that „Do I Wanna Know“ is playing in the background!