Revitalized by a triumphant headline slot at Glastonbury, Arctic Monkeys’ fifth studio effort, AM, sees Yorkshire’s finest striking a balance between the vibrant indie-pop of their Mercury Prize-winning debut and the slightly alienating stoner-rock of their last two records whilst also toying with a new-found hip-hop and R&B sensibility. The hook-laden “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” is positively G-funk-esque, while the seductive prowl of “One For the Road” proves that frontman Alex Turner wasn’t totally away with the faeries when he recently name-checked Aaliyah as one of the album’s influences.
The group’s sound may have progressed, therefore, since their first wave of MySpace-assisted success. But despite having recently settled down with actress Arielle Vandenberg, frontman Alex Turner still seems as pre-occupied with the quest for love and lust as he was when he was eyeing up girls who danced like a robot from 1984. Every single one of its 12 tracks finds him either reminiscing about a long lost ex, obsessing over the likelihood of an invitation to the bedroom or giving a potential new squeeze the Sheffield version of the Spanish inquisition. Thankfully, his sparkling repartee of tongue-twisting one-liners and droll metaphors ensures that his relentless tongue-hanging nature never becomes tiresome.
Perhaps inspired by Matt Helders’ unlikely friendship with P. Diddy, the second single from AM sounds like a swamp-rock take on “Bad Boy for Life” as Turner’s distinct Sheffield tones inquire whether a previous drunken fumble could lead to something more permanent: [LISTEN]
‘R U Mine‘
Referencing the home of the Thunderbirds, the Humbug-esque swamp-rock of this Record Store Day release sees Turner acknowledge his puppet-on-a-string status in an/off relationship with a ‘silver lining lone ranger’ who seems reluctant to give up the thrill of being chased: [LISTEN]
Following Turner’s guest spot on Queens Of The Stone Age‘s long-overdue first US chart-topper, …Like Clockwork, Josh Homme returns the favour with a falsetto-led cameo on a desperate plea for a particularly sociable ‘all back to mine’ party girl to cut to the chase: [LISTEN]
A mean and lean slice of 70s-inspired blues-rock which suggests last year’s tour with The Black Keys gave the band some ideas, Turner pays tribute to the modern-day Barbarella whose unique Mexican coke-drinking skills has left him wishing that he was the bottle: [LISTEN]
Reminiscing about a particular space age country girl, Turner suddenly realises that it’s been a year since they shared a whiskey and coke, a kiss and a quick burst of “2000 Light Years From Home” on a stomping glam-rock number that’s more The Sweet than the Stones:
Thankfully nothing like the bombastic Guetta-esque club banger its title suggests, “No.1 Party Anthem” is instead a contemplative Lennon-ish ballad which sees Turner lust over a girl whose initial eye contact suggests that for once, his feelings are reciprocated: [LISTEN]
Having borrowed the idea for the album’s title from out-takes collection VU, the band continue to pay tribute to The Velvet Underground with a gently-swaying spectral ballad which acknowledges the therapeutic nature that a bunch of mad sounds can often provide: [LISTEN]
Backed by a mix of galloping beats, Spaghetti Western guitars and ghostly doo-wop backing vocals, Turner wrestles with his conscience over his recent decision to move on from someone he once loved after a vision of them together starts to haunt his early morning and late night thoughts:
One of the few occasions where Turner’s claims of an hip-hop influence ring true, the Dr. Dre-esque bass and beats of this slinky earworm finds him in pestering mode again, prompting the girl who he only ever phones when under the influence to reel off every brush-off excuse in the book: [LISTEN]
Dusting off their platform boots and sequined suits again, “Snap Out of It” is another full-throttle foray into glam-rock which sees Turner plead with an ex to wake up and smell the coffee after she shacks up with a man he believes has put her under some kind of hypnotic spell: [LISTEN]
After dragging him out of his post-Christmas blues, Turner tries to persuade the one-time stranger in his phonebook to hold onto his blue Lacoste shirt for good, although the sinister guitar twangs suggest his latest appeal for love is destined to end in despair: [LISTEN]
Bringing punk poet John Cooper Clarke‘s distinctly Northern love letter to life, Turner compares himself to everything from a Ford Cortina to a portable heater in a desperate final attempt to win the heart of the girl he’s been chasing through the entire record: [LISTEN]