Arctic Monkeys – AM

AMRating: ★★★★☆

When a bunch of young chaps from Sheffield formed a band back in 2002, I doubt they had any idea they would be headlining Glastonbury, let alone headlining Glastonbury… twice. But ten years later, here they are, on their fifth LP release, still taking the indie world by storm and gaining more and more of a following after every release. AM, as aforementioned their fifth studio release, and gives a bit of a nod to their growth into a headlining super power. With this growth, do these no-longer-chaps from Sheffield still have something left in them to keep the hype going around them?

The single, and opening track “Do I Wanna Know?” certainly gives a roaring answer to this question. Stomping drumbeats set the tone, followed closely by some extremely buzzy guitar lines that come off as dark and sinister. Alex Turner’s enticing and subtly sensual vocals coat everything in a sort of heat that reminds me of the edgy coyness of Humbug. Turner spits lyrics out quickly, each line catchier than the next in his bad-boy persona, urging you to empathize with him and perhaps slick your hair back a bit when you sing along to the front man’s part in the call and response chorus. This song sets the tone for the rest of the album: cheeky, but not to the point in which evokes disgust. Turner and company make tunes that embody the very essence of cool.

But what makes AM relatable and not intangibly too cool is the subject matter: heartache. If you were to just listen to the instrumental portion of this record, you would enjoy it because it’s catchy and interesting, but as for emotionally available, it is a bit harder than you would expect from the Arctic Monkeys. The guitars are a bit edgier and noisier for the most part, with riffs tending to the hard rock genre. Take the song “I Want it All,” for example—extra heavy on guitar and light on everything else save for vocals. Musically, it sounds like a very dominant and confident tune, but then there’s Turner confessing: “Ain’t it just like you to kiss me and then hit the road?” There is this steady confidence exuded through the heartache that Turner spins songs about. Even on the slower numbers that don’t possess the gritty guitar, such as closer “I Wanna Be Yours” that embodies an R&B song more than anything, you still have unapologetic longing to be in love.

Though I wouldn’t consider myself a diehard fan of this group, I simply can’t deny that this is a great record, complete with a variety of genres touched upon here. Yes, Turner’s edgy lyrics remain constant, wrapped around the theme of love/infatuation—perhaps not enough in return from a particular subject—but it never comes across as repetitive or banal. AM is something you can take bits from and sympathize with as well as just enjoy on a musical level.

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