Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Album review: Arctic Monkeys - AM

Arctic Monkeys have come a long way since their debut LP Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not dropped. Back in 2006 they were four fresh-faced Sheffield kids dousing snappy, colloquial couplets over irresistible hooks.  Fast forward seven years and the Alex Turner-led ensemble has opened the Olympic Games, sold bucket-loads of records across the globe, and been restyled as quiff-sporting teddy boys straight from a GQ cover shoot.

 Despite the fame, you wouldn't accuse the Monkeys of selling out. Even though he calls L.A. home these days, Turner continues to narrate yarns of everyday life with his sardonic steelworker drawl, while the band's rocket-fuelled rock remains intact, albeit beefed up like a weight-lifting gym addict with a steroid problem. 

Album number five, AM, will continue this escalation into stadium-filling behemoths. Calling on support from the likes Josh Homme, Bill Ryder-Jones, and punk-poet John Cooper Clarke, the Monkeys have pulled off their most technically adroit and controlled recording of their career. Whether that's a good thing for longstanding fans is another matter.

 In truth, AM is as sexy as Arctic Monkeys have ever been. Stacked with falsetto harmonies and moody atmospherics, "One For the Road" and "Fireside" are all intense eyes and smoky pickup lines; the closing swoon "I Wanna Be Yours" has Turner cooing "I want to be your vacuum cleaner" with soppy affection; and "No 1 Party Anthem" is as earnest and love struck as an Elton John piano ballad. T

he clang of lead single "Do I Wanna Know?" and "R U Mine?" are about as close as it gets to the riotous rides of old. But it's impossible to compare today's Arctic Monkeys with its original incarnation. That was a band hungry for success. This one is starting to get a bit bloated.

First published here for Under the Radar 

No comments: