Release Date: Sep 10, 2013
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Arctic Monkeys have come a very long way since they burst out of Sheffield, clad in Fred Perry garms and Adidas Originals, surrounded by a huge amount of media hype most were sure would fade out like a Lib Dem manifesto. Almost 8 years later, they can now really stake a claim to be mentioned in the same bracket as the very best British bands. With each record Turner has further established his own genius, whilst the band's evolution, not too dissimilar to the album-by-album catharsis of a Radiohead or The Smiths, has allowed the band to develop into the sophisticated superpower that they without doubt have become.
As befits a band entering into its second decade of existence, Arctic Monkeys has come a long way from its adrenalized tempos and soccer-chant choruses. Don’t mistake that for maturity, however. This is still the same puckish quartet that enjoys a good pub crawl, the occasional pill on the tongue and making a loud rock racket. What has continued to evolve is the UK quartet’s sound, which has slowed to a steady heartbeat-like pulse inspired by the stoned expanse of acts like Black Sabbath and T.
From awkward young upstarts to headlining the biggest festivals around the world. It’s almost hard to believe how far Arctic Monkeys have come since the release of their now seminal debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not in 2006. The evolution of the UK’s favourite Sheffield foursome during that time was clear for all to see at Glastonbury in June, where their headline slot demonstrated what an incredibly varied back catalogue they now have to call on.
Arctic MonkeysAM[Domino; 2013]By Brendan Frank; September 9, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetThe novelty of file-sharing turned out to be both Arctic Monkeys’ worst enemy and greatest ally in their precipitous climb. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, the accidental classic that the band recorded as teenagers, was lightning in a bottle, inspiring the kind of glitch-in-the-matrix hysteria that that no rock album has really done since. At that point, it was relatively easy to dislike them for what they represented, having been hurled into the pole position of British consciousness by a tidal wave of praise that many felt they neither deserved nor stood a chance of surviving.
Britain’s Most Successful Band Ever™ (for most sales in one week) have, since their 2006 debut, expertly navigated the modern-rock landscape, releasing albums that perfectly captured the current culture mood. AM will prove to be no different and, thanks to the unabashed rockness of it, could be the one album of theirs that might most appeal to American ears. In 2012, the Monkeys hit the road with The Black Keys and it’s obvious that that band’s swampy distorto-rock has influenced the typically more compact riffage of Sheffield’s finest.
If Arctic Monkeys launched a tentative retreat on Suck It & See, their first effort after being seduced by Josh Homme, the group once again forge ahead into bold new territory on AM, their fifth album. Neatly splitting the difference between the band's two personalities -- the devotees of barbed British pop and disciples of curdled heavy rock -- AM consolidates Arctic Monkeys strengths, a tricky task in and of itself, but the band pushes further, incorporating unapologetic glam stomps, fuzzy guitars, and a decidedly strong rhythmic undercurrent. At times, AM pulses to a distinctly danceable rhythm -- "Fireplace" percolates while "Why Do You Only Call Me When You're High" simmers and "Knee Socks" nearly rivals Franz Ferdinand in disco rock -- but this isn't an album made for nights out; it's a soundtrack for nights in.
Their first record was called Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not-- a Nevermind the Bollocks-type sendup of the generation-defining Self-Titled Debut Album as well as a bratty act of defiance from four Yorkshire youths drunk on their own twitchy cleverness. Their fifth album is called AM, and those mountainous initials stood sky-high behind the band as they preened and stomped like proper rock stars through a headlining Glastonbury set earlier this year. Their face-shrouding hair and brown hoodies are out; greaser streaks and bespoke suits are in.
Almost a decade into their career, the Arctic Monkeys have aged gracefully into their precociously world-weary image with a mature album about immaturity, a carefully written and produced effort about the desultory careen of youth. While the band has long since ditched their hoodies, replacing them with vintage Fab Four-style blazers, many of the sonic influences on their fifth album, AM, are American. Drummer Matt Helders and bassist Nick O'Malley's harmonized pop falsettos back almost every track, acting like a lubricant between Alex Turner's reverb-laden vocal hooks and Jamie Cook's dry, rasping riffs.
When Arctic Monkeys burst into the spotlight in 2006, breaking sales records, prompting bandwagon-jumping prospective Labour party leaders to make themselves sound heroically foolish and being hailed for their quintessential Britishness, you could have got long odds on the key figure in the second phase of their career being Californian stoner-rock pioneer Josh Homme. And yet it was under the production aegis of the Queens of the Stone Age frontman that they performed a stylistic handbrake turn with 2009's Humbug, ditching the indie influences of their first two albums for a markedly heavier, darker sound. It also marked the point where Alex Turner's lyrical inspirations shifted away from sharply chronicled vignettes of small-town England ("songs about fucking taxi ranks," as he once put it) to more elliptical subject matter.
For a group whose early lyrics came crammed with cheeky one-liners, it was sometimes tricky to gauge how much Arctic Monkeys really enjoyed being in a band. They have at times seemed suspicious of their own fame, and their last two records appeared keen to be taken seriously rather than loved. This fifth, however, manages to connect those different directions – the muscular riffs of Humbug and the wistful pop of Suck It and See – with the bristling energy and sense of fun that propelled their initial recordings.
Arctic Monkeys seem like they’ve been part of the collective cultural consciousness for so long now that it’s hard to believe that 2013 marks only the eighth year since the band’s explosive mainstream breakthrough. That is arguably as much to do with the nature of their emergence as it is to do with their musical achievements since: the idea that we ever considered a band using the internet to achieve popular recognition to be a novel concept already seems so quaint and outmoded that the natural assumption is that it must have happened a lifetime ago. The path from internet hype to mainstream success is now so well-worn that it is easy to forget quite how unusual Arctic Monkey’s arrival was, in the days when MySpace still occupied its strange dual position of music discovery service and social network, and CD sales still drastically outnumbered digital ones.
In a musical era that is supposedly post-consensus and post-criticism, it remains surprisingly easy to identify a band’s de facto masterwork. NB, then, that since Arctic Monkeys’ 2006 debut their LPs have each attracted a distinct and pretty evenly proportioned subset of zealots. This makes ranking the band’s releases an interesting litmus test; in revealing their fandom’s orientation, a person unwittingly flashes their whole musical ideology.
It's been almost a decade since the Arctic Monkeys torpedoed out of Sheffield, England, riding a bunch of sharp pub-punk songs and the kind of ravenous U.K. media hype that often fades like a hangover. But the Monkeys keep on evolving. Recorded in their new hometown of L.A., with buddies like Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme and Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas pitching in, their fifth LP is this quintessentially English retro-rock band's most American-sounding record, especially rhythmically.
For a time, Arctic Monkeys were the most popular band in Britain. On the heels of hit single “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” and massive blog hype, the band’s first album, 2006’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, went on to become the fastest-selling British debut in history, an overnight success. A fleet of other bands across the Atlantic ? Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party ? received similar acclaim and fandom with their first records, some of the first beneficiaries of file sharing and Internet music communities.
Arctic Monkeys have come a long way since their debut LP Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not dropped. Back in 2006 they were four fresh-faced Sheffield kids dousing snappy, colloquial couplets over irresistible hooks. Fast forward seven years and the Alex Turner-led ensemble has opened the Olympic Games, sold bucket-loads of records across the globe, and been restyled as quiff-sporting teddy boys straight from a GQ cover shoot.
With what is now a string of five albums in eight years, bands like Arctic Monkeys rarely come around nowadays. After releasing their first two albums in consecutive years, they’ve quietly taken a year off in between their following three albums and have solidified their mainstay as one of music’s most classically influenced and in turn, one of the most stunningly blissful bands around. Inspired by the album VU, by the Velvet Underground, Alex Turner and his fellow monkeys have stated in interviews that they’ve reached a certain level of individualism and content with their current sound and style: it felt right to simply initial this fifth album, AM.
Some bands are born brilliant, but very few emerge truly great. That takes time. Twisting and turning by a mixture of accident and design, roughing up and rounding off, most fall apart under the weight of their own artistic ego and flagging fan bases before they ever figure it out.Not Arctic Monkeys, though. Their first movements were incendiary.
opinion byBENJI TAYLOR Brixton Academy, London, February 2006, the NME Awards Tour – Maximo Park are headlining, with support from We Are Scientists, Mystery Jets, and a band with a name so terrible that Noel Gallagher stated several months previous that the very title itself would doom the holders to failure. That band are Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys, and as the headliners take the stage after Alex Turner and co’s electric set, Paul Smith – the Maximo Park frontman – looks bewildered to see half of Brixton Academy’s occupants leaving before he and his fellow headlining bandmates have even played one note. That night was just another fascinating chapter in the ever-impressive narrative arc of the early career of Arctic Monkeys, and an example of a pattern that would continue to repeat itself, as one-by-one they left their peers - the mass of landfill indie bands fashioned in the wake of The Libertines’ acrimonious withdrawal from the British indie scene – behind them.
This is a story about sex, drugs and Josh Homme. If you could regularly get that combination in your own life, you'd be living well. When they first emerged, Arctic Monkeys were writing songs that observed their generation with a squinting eye and a curled lip. Now they're living it. Unlike Oasis ….
Arctic Monkeys AM (Domino) The Arctic Monkeys' creative tailspin of the past five years has validated the proclamation made by the band's 2006 breakthrough: Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. The identity crisis reaches a boiling point on AM, with Prince song titles ("R U Mine?"), Black Sabbath scale ("Arabella"), and the gold-ceiling glam of stadium tour mates the Black Keys ("I Want It All"). Yet track for track, the now-L.A.-based quartet's fifth album might be their strongest since 2007 ambulance chaser Favourite Worst Nightmare, due in large part to the lingering shadow of Humbug producer Josh Homme, both literally (in the slinky "Knee Socks") and figuratively (in the staccato stab of "Snap Out of It").
No rapper knows the value of a guest verse the way 2 Chainz does: appearing on other artists’ songs, and dominating, has been crucial to his ascent over the last couple of years. “Might not be your favorite artist/But your favorite artist got a verse from me,” he raps proudly on Fabolous’s ….