It has been only two years since we saw the release of “Suck it and See,” which demonstrated that Arctic Monkeys are not just some band from Sheffield that can be replicated. Their sound was louder than the indie band from “Favourite Worst Nightmare,” and lacked that Josh Homme vibe from “Humbug” keeping true to themselves but still advancing their music. During last year’s Record Store Day, the band released “R U Mine,” on a purple 7” which showcased the direction that they would take on their next album, “AM.” This album was also recorded in the US which can be seen through the album, as was seen in “Suck it and See.”
Although we said that the Arctic Monkeys “Humbug” was the bands own downfall and it was something that was what made us more excited for “Suck It and See,” it did change the band and their sound allowing them to grow slowly and give us this album.
As unfortunate as it may be to some people there is no equivalency of their first two albums in “AM,” which although a travesty, is something that makes the band grow and not exploit their hits, allowing them to venture into new sounds and work with different bands and producers. With “Suck it and See” being their first album recorded in the US, it opened their style to a more American audience, which is once again reflected here. This is to say that the band has lost the indie title it once so proudly held and moved on to be undefined, which allows the band to changes it sound as it grows without truly disappointing genre specific audiences.
Technically “R U Mine,” was the first unofficial single from their latest album which gave us a louder more grown up version of the boys we knew from “Florescent Adolescent.” The song came out on YouTube February 2012 and was a sample of the new look and attitude of the band. After recording in Sage and Sound Recording Studios in Los Angeles the band entrusted James Ford once again with their fifth full length studio album adding to the list of variety in their sound.
It can be seen in “Arabella” which starts of a bit mystifying with soft vocal by Alex Turner and a calm vibe that builds perfectly with the perfect amount of guitar and rock in the chorus, not deviating from the atmosphere created by the verses with lines such as “And when she needs to shelter from reality she takes a dip in my daydreams.” Although these lyrics are endearing and powerful, there is usually a track from the band that is psychedelic and surreal, which is fulfilled by every other line of this song.
This time the band added the simplistic rock elements and exploited them while adding Turner’s vocals to make a perfect rhythm track which was the first official single from the album “Do I Wanna Know?” The simple drum beat and guitar creates the perfect emersion which is only complimented by lyrics that enhance the simplistic plucking of the bass through the verse, “Been wondering if your hearts still open and if so I want to know what time it shuts.” This track is sexual seduction, a gritty old school sound with the ambiguity of lust and frustration which is why the tempo is structured starting calm and ending intensely and suddenly.
There are still a few more traces of “Humbug,” in the album with more melancholy tracks such as “I Wanna Be Yours,” that is soothing, giving the right backup vocals matching the rhythm of Turner’s voice while still holding a bit of an old school rock with it being one of the more moderately calm tracks in the album as well as in the bands discography. The synth gives the track a great touch with the guitar still remaining true to the sounds of Arctic Monkeys. This can also be seen on the track, “One for the Road,” which is the perfect combination of a verse that sounds a bit dark and has the classic build up instrumentally to end the song suddenly claiming that, “The mixture hits you hard. Don’t get that sinking feeling, don’t fall apart”
After having toured with The Black Keys for a few months there are a few influences of the guitar Dan Auerbach offers in this album. “Knee Socks,” if heard only instrumentally is almost identical to the style of The Black Keys with the guitar and drums resembling a bit of the track, “Sister.” Although it does have that style, there are still element which make it an Arctic Monkeys track such as the backing vocals and reverb that makes the track a bit different, but only slightly as to avoid duplication of an already popular band.
“Mad Sounds,” also has The Black Keys synth in the background but still holding a west coast vibe to it and lyrically a track from “Humbug,” saying, “Love buckles under the strain of those wild nights.” Contrary to this, we have “No. 1 Party Anthem,” which is a memory of the soundtrack Alex Turner did for the film Submarine or and equivalence to “Love is a Lazerquest,” from “Suck it and See.”
“Why’d You Only Call Me When Your High?” is a track that sounds and has a different style than when they started, but lyrically it could have been on their first album giving explicit detail about certain events such as in, “Still Take You Home,” and “From the Ritz to the Rubble.”
Although they do not return to their original sound, the band does have a few English sounding tracks such as, “Snap Out Of It,” which is a reminder of Babyshambles (Pete Doherty), Beady Eye, or Miles Kane. “Fireside,” is a long lost brother of a track from The Last Shadow Puppets (Miles Kane, Alex Turner, and James Ford), which is a bit surprising to see it take this many years to see that project influence the band. It has an orchestral piece in it that was arranged perfectly with the band, reenacting the musical composition that Turner and Ford had before working with Arctic Monkeys.
Now that the band has taken its self from a specific genre and style, it is finally able to bring in influences from their experiences over the past years, finally giving the flexibility they needed to evolve.
“I don’t think we have any worries you know about people staying with us as we sort of evolve. I don’t think anyone wants us to continue or return to the approach we had seven years ago or whatever,” Alex Turner told NME and we cannot agree more.