ARCTIC MONKEYS – AM
aaamusic | On 24, Sep 2013
I remember the first time I heard an Arctic Monkeys single; it was a hot afternoon in June 2006 and my friends and I were battling with the last graduation exams and dissertation. Outraged by and curious of Whatever People Say That’s What I’m Not becoming the fastest selling debut album in UK chart history – breaking a record that belonged to Definitely Maybe – I approached the band and fell for them instantly.
Now don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t always been an easy relationship, we’ve been on a rocky patch for the last couple of years – after a major disappointment at one of their live hows in Milan in 2011 during the Hambug tour – but now I willingly swallow my pride, throw my hands up in the air and scream hurray, they’re back. My love has been rekindled.
AM – their fifth studio album – is mature and sounds effortlessly perfect. The traits that make the band from Sheffield unique are still there: the lyrics, the themes and their constant musical experimentation. But you can see there is a reasoned structure in the way the songs are arranged.
The album opens with the drums that start ‘Do I Wanna Know?‘. It’s powerful and effective, a sound that grabs your stomach. It gets richer with the guitars and the bass. Alex Turner‘s voice is deep, warm and has a sensual quality more prominent than in other songs and albums. Certainly this single doesn’t miss the distinctive apnoea effect – that sounds like a signature – when Turner doesn’t pause in-between the sentences, but leads the words in a breathless spiral that culminates in the explosion of the refrain.
Blues and rock veins flow into the fourth track ‘Arabella‘, creating a successful modern rock ballad; Turner modules his voice going up and down. It sounds like a grown-up version of another of the band’s hits, ‘When The Sun Goes Down‘, but here the atmosphere and the music are darker and more mature.
Another treat is ‘Knee Socks‘ that sees Josh Homme‘s participation as vocalist – the voices are huskier and the song has a bluesy touch reinterpreted in the Monkeys’ personal taste. The happy marriage between the British band and the Queens Of The Stone Age‘s frontman started in 2008, when Hommes collaborated onthe production of Humbug; after that, Turner appeared as a guest vocalist for …Like a Clockwork, the sixth album for the Californian band.
This album carries other merits – other than the one of having re-sparkled my passion: it’s their fifth UK number one album, which is a record for a band backed up by an independent record, plus it’s the second fast selling album of the year.
Is it perfect? Of course not. ‘No. 1 Party Anthem‘ seems to belong to one of their previous works, interrupting the flow and rhythm of the album. But this is such a dense and thick record that you can cut them some slack.
Job well done, naughty Monkeys.