Arctic Monkeys, AM

Arctic Monkeys has never really been on my radar. I’ve heard them for years and I’ve been told by so many people that I need to hear them, how could you not like them? My excuse is simply, I just didn’t like it. Through four records, somehow they never held my attention. But then we have AM. I don’t know what these guys did to change things up, because it sounds like a standard evolution for the band, but this is by far, their best work.

The record splits rather evenly, with the first six tracks boasting an indie, raw rock sound, opening with the lazy nostalgia of “Do I Wanna Know”. Its followed quickly by the quick-fire rock of “R U Mine?”, and the track features solid, simple production, with smooth melodies from vocalist Alex Turner. Brilliant guitar work fills the quiet spaces during the bridge, before Turner’s infectious chorus crashes back in with a noisy, feedback-fueled finish. Haunting and soaring bass lines flood “One For The Road” with a soft gang vocal on the hook, sung throughout much of the chorus while Turner sings over it elegantly. “Arabella” follows, and is quite possibly the smoothest and most driving track on the collection. Borrowing from the likes of Jet, the band has this certain aura throughout the song that is hard to replicate.

After the regrettably forgetful “No. 1 Party Anthem” (it’s got too much of a stoner feel to be enjoyed while *not* high), “Mad Sounds” swings into a sixties ballad world, and the percussion heavy “Fireside” follow, with horns and a certain groove that just rides right through you. The hit “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” feels like it might have fit with the first half, but it keeps a level head throughout the album. The old school sound continues on it, and it’s interesting to think that Arctic Monkeys cited hip-hop and Dr. Dre as influences for this record. Fast paced lyrics abound over the break beat sound, and it works perfectly. The beats and piano continue through the upbeat and quirky “Snap Out Of It”, and the solos return on the airy disposition of “Knee Socks”.

I was really surprised to find myself liking an Arctic Monkeys record this time around. But AM is quite possibly one of the best records to be released this year, and you’ll be kicking yourself if you miss it. Combining classic sounding beats and updated English rock, they’ve got a hit record on their hands.

Justin Mabee