Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Album review: ARCTIC MONKEYS - AM

Highlights: Do I Wanna Know?, No. 1 Party Anthem, Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?, I Wanna Be Yours

Just because it’s so hilariously entertaining, you absolutely have to read this (if you haven’t done that yet, of course). God knows why they didn’t mention that AM is the best album since Definitely Maybe. Since Revolver. Since ever.  

But for once – I understand the hype. I didn’t understand it in 2006 or in 2007. And I thought Humbug was melodically pretty much inept. Then, all of a sudden, when all hope was abandoned, Arctic Monkeys released the poppier and a little underappreciated Suck It And See that finally exposed Alex Turner's songwriting. Which was great songwriting. Now AM; not exactly an improvement – but certainly another convincing step in the right direction, even if a decidedly different one.

While the first two songs don’t betray too many changes (still, both were singles for a reason), the shameless falsetto opening “One For The Road” is where you know you are into something new. The R’n’B influences are all around, and they merge rather effortlessly with the album’s seductive, pleasantly narcotic sound. Another big asset is Alex’s voice that oozes lushness, sensual energy and snide confidence. Plus, whether it’s a huge ballad like “No. 1 Party Anthem” or a catchy 3-minute pop groove like “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” (what’s with these question marks anyway?), the songwriting is consistently strong. Somewhat ironic, then, that the album’s best song happens to be based on a poem by John Cooper Clarke. “I Wanna Be Yours” is transformed into an immaculate and cleverly understated ode to sexual yearning and desire.  

I loved the songs and I loved the production. However, I’m giving it what I’m giving it – because “R U Mine?” does sound like a faster rewrite of “Do I Wanna Know?”, because rockers like “I Want It All” don’t really convince me and because I still can’t decide whether the chorus of “Knee Socks” is infectious in a brilliant or annoying way. But a great album all the same – from a band you can no longer deny.  


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