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Arctic Monkeys - AM (Review)

Arctic Monkeys, AM

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

YOU’VE got to hand it to Arctic Monkeys… they’re maturing very nicely with age.

While their debut was a little over-rated (in our humble opinion), subsequent albums have been getting better and better. AM, their fifth offering, has some terrific moments that succeed in updating their sound while referencing the very things that have helped to make them one of Britain’s brightest acts.

Primary among these traits is their ability to deliver quick songs of impeccably catchy credentials. The album clocks in at a little over 40 minutes and seldom feels like it’s dragging its feet.

It also opens with former single Do I Wanna Know?, a cracker of a track that drops one of the album’s moodiest and most distinct guitar riffs (courtesy of Jamie Cook’s handiwork) and a great vocal from charismatic frontman Alex Turner.

There’s a touch of The White Stripes about the gritty guitar sound that follows on another gem, R U Mine?, which is similarly moody and gritty.

But then the album changes tack slightly and comes over more soulful with One For The Road. A falsetto vocal accompanies the chorus, the guitars are more reined in and there’s a sexier sheen to proceedings. It’s almost like The Charlatans meeting ’70s era Rolling Stones and it works a treat.

There’s sex appeal aplenty on Arabella, which begins in playful fashion, before occasionally unleashing a mighty riff that, again, harks back to the ’70s and its giant rock acts.

I Want It All opens like a glam-rock foot-stomper and owes plenty to T-Rex, while there’s ballad aspirations to the piano-soaked No.1 Party Anthem, a nice paradox of sorts. For while it’s name suggests a party reveller to rival I Bet You’d Look Good On The Dancefloor, it’s a power ballad that owes more in influence to the likes of Elton John, John Lennon and David Bowie.

Mad Sounds offers up a melody-strewn ode to the power of music to transform your life and make you feel good (albeit in mid-tempo style), while Fireside is alive with slick beats, sharp guitar licks and even doo-wop elements over the classy chorus.

Further highlights arrive in the form of the playful Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?, which again adopts a more soul-pop vibe over its chorus, while Snap Out Of It thrives from another falsetto chorus and the type of vibe that Queens of the Stone Age would be proud of (is it any wonder that Josh Homme is among the album’s guest collaborators?).

By the time AM hits you with its final track, I Wanna Be Yours – which features the words of English punk rock performance poet John Cooper Clarke – you should be in no doubt that you’ve heard one of the year’s best event albums. And that moody finale is an excellent note to end things on, combining romance with a little edge and a damn fine chorus.

AM is a class act from start to finish.

Download picks: Do I Wanna Know?, R U Mine?, One For The Road, Arabella, Fireside

Track listing:

  1. Do I Wanna Know?
  2. R U Mine?
  3. One For The Road
  4. Arabella
  5. I Want It All
  6. No. 1 Party Anthem
  7. Mad Sounds
  8. Fireside
  9. Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
  10. Snap Out Of It
  11. Knee Socks
  12. I Wanna Be Yours