Undisputed kings of current Brit-rock, the Arctic Monkeys look back to their musical roots to bring us the coolest album of the summer, the electrifying AM.
After the slight disappointment of Suck It And See two years ago, Alex Turner and co. are right back in the ring with a new image and a new record that seriously competes with their sensational, astonishingly successful debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Perhaps only a couple of tracks off perfection, the new work maintains that Arctic charm and cheek, but it also displays some newly impressive musicianship.
Unfortunately, however, a leather jacket, slicked-back hair and a sell-out stadium tour don’t let you off with sloppiness. It was sad to hear a lazy fade-out ending in ‘I Want It All’; and at least four of the tracks on the album noticeably share near-identical bass line patterns and chord sequences. That said, they’re damn good patterns and sequences. The rhythm section is beautifully cooperative throughout the album, and when combined with gorgeous guitar solos and soaring vocals, the resulting tunes go down beautifully.
AM is greatly diverse: tracks such as ‘Arabella’ contribute Led Zeppelin and maybe even Black Sabbath vibes; the opening ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ foreshadows the deep, groovy nature of the some of the quieter later tracks, and tracks six and seven, ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ and ‘Mad Sounds’, bring you down a notch for some mellow but rich prom-night-esque soothers. That’s before the album takes another turn into something of a third act, the rest of the album being more up beat and almost Seventies in style.
Every track is a strong effort, and while the more experimental tracks are a real pleasure to hear, the Arctic Monkeys are far more impressive when they keep to what they brought to the scene from the beginning – fast, hard-hitting anthems. As such, ‘R U Mine?’ is a highlight not only of this album, but of this year, and this band’s career.