This Weeks Music Video

This Weeks Music Video. From Haim with If I Could Change Your Mind, Damon Albarn with Lonely Press Play, Kings of Leon with Temple and Arctic Monkeys with Arabella

Arctic Monkeys – AM Review


The time has almost come. My twitter feed a collage of love, hate, longing and frustration and even descriptions of what sexual acts this album is making people do. But for the good of humankind, I won’t scar you with such images. But I think even through the One Direction like delusion from some that has accompanied the build up to AM; there is a great sense of something really special. More so than their past efforts. I often cry for ‘INNOVATION’ on a regular basis and I can count on one hand how many have been truly innovative this year but the sad thing is that many of them don’t have the platform that Arctic Monkeys have. This is why I’ve been frustrated at their efforts to please Josh Homme by dipping in and out of his record collection when they could have really pushed the boundaries with true innovation to show that guitar music isn’t just going on in cycles. And for anyone who believes the NME then guitar music is dead and oh so nearly buried. Nevertheless they changed direction instead of fizzling out with the sound of their first two efforts and the last two efforts have allowed for great advances in the bands musicality, song structure, vocals and of course with the lyrics which are rarely a sideshow to the music and are full of quirks and rhymes that can still catch you off guard. With that in mind, AM is almost the culmination of the ‘Homme Era Monkeys’ upon which they’ve pushed it to it’s limits and beyond and given how they’ve developed since 2009, then this should be Arctic Monkeys having everyone grabbed by the collar and having their undivided attention once again. But will they believe the hype?

‘Do I Wanna Know?’ is what really started the hype full force. That stomp that lead the song into oh so simple yet maximum effect riff was in principle nothing new and has been the in thing from 2009-2012 with all the various artists plugging it. However they rewired it almost and just broke all those raging riffs from the last few years into something slower, louder and just more clear. They’ve rehashed into something so much more tuneful and at ease with itself than anyone else could’ve imagined. The Bass also eases itself into the song ever so slightly to take part into the very gradual build up of sound for the chorus as it’s endgame. Alex’s vocals too, mimic the instrumentals. Delivering each lyric with a pause to fit the words to what the instrumentals are doing for a perfectly symmetrical structure. The backing vocal is on an equal footing too for the bridge which keeps everything immediate and in your face as you’re hit by the greater depth of the chorus while it still refrains from getting carried away and it flows between verse, bridge and chorus seamlessly as a result. What makes this song is what they don’t do. For it speaks so much more than cramming it full of riffs, raging percussion etc. ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ strikes you straight away. No gimmicks (for as much as I like them). The bass line is deep and fluctuates so smoothly and creates an indelible groove and allows for everything else to just trickle off it like the little licks and riffs giving the song a little bit of texture as it quietly fills the space. The vocals at first follow the pattern of the music until they are woven around it all at the end of each verse. The backing vocals too, are placed in more than one place and bounce off each other well while Matt fills up the space so thinly with the tingling of the cymbals towards the end. The lyrics too are a little more direct and tastefully seductive and this is probably why it was their best charting single since 2007 as it had that wider appeal.

‘R U Mine’ has Alex Turner at his witty and quick shifting best both lyrically and vocally and that’s what sets it apart from the desert rock of others like the Black Key’s to the other extreme of QOTSA. That and it’s sheer cockiness and bold thinking in how it’s performed. But compared to the two more recent singles, it isn’t as creative which makes quite a lot of sense when you consider the track was released over a year before ‘Do I Wanna Know?’. ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ is the sort of swooning ballad that wouldn’t be out of place playing over the credits of a 1970’s Bond film with Roger Moore on a yacht or something. It’s the ‘Oh Darling’ type piano that makes it so; with the acoustic elements and the steady drum beat. The typical contributions from the lead guitar are no different and it seems like this song is a bit of pure pop ballad indulgence from them which does give a much needed shift in tone even if it is very retro. The lyrics are no doubt the focus here. ‘Arabella’ starts off with a very prominent bass line again from Nick with the stepped, rapidly plucked riffs trickling from it which gives Turners vocal a simple foundation. It soon rips out of it’s cool, calm shell which for some will be for some much needed raging guitar riffs and then pauses while Alex’s vocals switch from it’s standard sound to a more isolated style and back again and at times are echoed out. There’s also moments for some Kevin Parker like guitar solo’s at the end too and the song picks up it’s pace well and they show great control to flick on and off the raging instrumentals. Soulful and straight up rocking clashes with ‘Want It All’ while ‘Mad Sounds’ carries on the contemplative and steady ballads. ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ takes the album to it’s last dark corner with simple progression from the vocals throughout.

AM falls down on very few occasions and when it does, it’s only to re-envisage some great Desert Rock, Swooning Ballads etc. The rest of it has been new takes on worn out sounds, showing that you can be innovative in what you don’t bring to a song and with at times fluctuating styles within songs. I also think that Josh Homme’s presence has for once not been an overbearing one but something that has furthered their vision and aim here. Even if you tried your hardest to knock it, the album is at least an 8/10 but when you consider it against most other mainstream rock bands then you’d be knocking them for what is mostly those bands better types of songs and if that’s all you can aim an attack at then the album is even better than those and it’s almost a relief that this sort of music will get radio time as well; to show everyone what still can be done with guitar music in 2013. I know it can be easy, but don’t let all the crazed fangirls and boys put you off it because it’s an album that maintains a very high standard throughout and will give me a headache when I decide what the greatest albums of 2013 are. I’m really putting myself out on a limb with the early score I am giving it too; which shows the faith I have in it.

Arctic Monkeys – AM = 9/10

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