Hello Internet! I would like to begin this week’s post by informing you that, while I took a LOT of videos at the Local Natives Concert with every intention of posting them, I got lazy and didn’t post. Sorry guys. Maybe at some point. Now, on to this weeks review!
Album: AM Artist: Arctic Monkeys
The Arctic Monkeys were one of those bands that seriously took off. In the past (what is it, eight?) years, they’ve gone from teenage indie kids to clean cut rockers. And boy do they have a devoted fan base. I can say with 100% assurance that, at the past three concerts (none of which were for Arctic Monkeys, I might add), I’ve seen at least one person with an Arctic Monkeys band tee. My exposure to the band has been more recent, however. While I’ve heard people rave about how great this band was, I always told myself “I’ll get there,” but never did.
Now the very first time I listened to “Do I Wanna Know?” I remember thinking that it was a good song — but I wasn’t overly familiar with Arctic Monkeys, and, even though I really liked the song, I didn’t listen to the rest of the album. To make a long story short, I realized that the Arctic Monkeys had collaborated with a band I was familiar with — Queens of the Stone Age — on their last album (for those Guitar Hero fanatics out there, “3’s and 7’s” might be something you might recognize). And as I followed that rabbit trail through the magical Internet, I came across an interesting piece of information. Josh Homme, frontman for Queens, had produced Arctic Monkeys’ album Humbug. There’s more of a partnership there that I’ll touch on later.
With this new knowledge lodged inside my brain, I clicked on my Spotify icon and proceeded to listen to all kinds of Arctic Monkeys music. I can’t say I heard anything I didn’t like. I can say that they haven’t tucked themselves into one specific genre though. It’s kind of refreshing to see that kind of experimentation with an artist. I admire how they’re willing to try different styles.
But then there was the first time I listened to AM all the way through. It was awesome. These guys know what they’re doing, and Alex Turner can really write a song. So needless to say, when I came across this album on vinyl for the low price of $9.99, I splurged (despite the fact that I told myself I wouldn’t buy any more vinyl for the rest of the month) — and I haven’t stopped listening since.
It’s hard to really describe the “genre” to throw this album into. The first few times I listened I couldn’t decide if it was more 90’s R&B or 70’s rock. To me, AM is what would happen if Dr. Dre (a listed influence by Alex Turner himself) and The Rolling Stones had a lovechild. That’s right – its legendary. What could be better than a mix of insane beats and classic rock?
AM is actually a very interesting album. If you listen to it all the way through, you can hear the raw emotion of this guy singing about some girl that he just can’t get over. Lines like “Do I wanna know/if this feeling flows both ways?” and “Maybe I’m too busy being yours to fall for somebody new,” make that more than apparent. Honestly, the album had me wondering what girl had Alex Turner so hung up.
Really though, I love the lyrics on AM. I love the crowded lines that have internal rhyme and specific rhythm, that almost seem just too long for the allotted space (think Eminem – but a little slower). I love the cleverness, found in songs like “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” And I love the admitted John Lennon influence, so apparent in the line “Arabella’s got some interstellagator skin boots/ and a helter skelter around her little finger…” found in “Arabella.” Actually, “Arabella” might be my favorite song on the album. If I had to pick one song to be that Dre/Stones lovechild I mentioned, this would be it. The song has an excellent beat reminiscent of that 90’s R&B, but a catch riff. It’s like a stoner band covering a Beatles re-write of TLC. Too complicated? Probably.
But it’s not just the lyrics that make this album so awesome. The band really embraces a style of low beats and riffs with falsetto vocals (think Bee Gees). In fact (going back to the Homme-Monkeys thing I was on about earlier) its a similar style to that of Queens of the Stone Age (but Queens do it dirtier). I think that this is super cool. Why? Because its just one instance of how musicians can be influenced by other musicians. And what’s cooler? Josh Homme actually guests on the album, filling in backup vocals on both “One for the Road” and “Knee Socks.”
What’s really clever about AM, though, is it’s last song: “I Wanna Be Yours” wasn’t even written by the band. It’s actually a poem by John Cooper Clarke with a bridge and a chorus added. Now, John Cooper Clarke did it pretty well (I listened to his recorded version from 1982 on YouTube), but the Monkeys turned it into something a little more sexy. Regardless, it finishes the album with a simple sentiment: “Ill be at least as deep as the Pacific Ocean/I wanna be yours.”
AM is a really good album. This album is what, as one critic put it, gives the Monkeys license to do whatever they want from here on out. I’m not saying this album is a 10/10, but I am saying it cuts it pretty close. It’s just the story of a guy who really can’t get over this girl, which seems kinda sad really, but the lyrics really grab the listener; you almost begin to feel this guy’s pain and frustration all rolled into his “3am thoughts” (a phrase I totally just borrowed from this review). And what makes this album even better is the sound. The guitars, the drums, the bass. It’s like its created purely from the emotions found in the vocals and it sucks you in with it.
So do I like AM? I think the answer is pretty obvious. I can’t wait to see what Arctic Monkeys do next. Until next week, keep listening!
Honorable Song Mentions: Do I Wanna Know?, R U Mine?, One for the Road Arabella, No. 1 Party Anthem, Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?, Snap Out of It, I Wanna Be Yours (Yeah, that was the entire album, with the exception of like only three songs)