Let’s just clear something from the oft; I’ve never really been a fan of the Arctic Monkeys. It’s not them as a band whatsoever (I mean I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor was actually a pretty solid track), I’ve just never really ‘got’ the rock/indie genre. When the group were headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury earlier this year, I was shovelling the funk and getting into the disco spirit with Chic over at West Holts; there was just very little interest from my side to focus on guitar bands (even though, ironically, part of Chic/Nile Rodger’s prowess lies on the quality of the strings).
However, over the past few months, my ears have been opened and I’ve started to warm with what the rock bands are doing now, especially their trial of fusing different genres. When I’d heard that the inspiration for the Arctic Monkeys’ new album AM was driven by Dr Dre and Aaliyah, I thought I’d throw my ignorance out the window, take a sit down and listen. I’m happy I did.
Recent single Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? is one of the clear contenders of Dre’s influence. Arguably the catchiest song on the album, not only does the track seem to pay homage to the 90’s ‘G-funk era’, but there’s clear weighting toward the Doctor’s What’s the Difference?.
Opener Do I Wanna Know? soothes the listener into the album and introduces this fairly new direction from the band; guitarist Jamie Cook’s slow, melancholic riffs massively compliment Turner’s eerie vocals in the bridge – at 4:32 it’s by no means a short track, but you’ll definitely wish it continued on for longer.
R U Mine, the track originally leaked to confusion (yet fanfare) over 18 months ago, makes a welcome appearance on AM, and will particularly please Arctic Monkeys’ fans of old, whilst there’s something intriguing by One For The Road – you could pick out some form of The Weeknd influences here, and by the end of the track you’ll be ‘crowing’ and ‘woo-woo’ing’ akin to the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil.
Arabella seems to take strong hues from AC/DC’s Back In Black, whilst Turner’s lyrics show no holding back here with “….and a helter skelter ’round her little finger and I ride it endlessly…”. It’s glam rock, with 70’s funk and just seems to work effortlessly. Meanwhile, the melancholic No. 1 Party Anthem (which is as much a number one party anthem as One Direction’s Best Song Ever is the best song ever) seems to dip in to Radiohead’s No Surprises instrumental; it’s by no means a tub-thumping track, moreso a poignant ballad dominated by Turner’s array of pitches.
Snap Out Of It, whilst by no means the strongest song on AM, will get the crowds moving, with Turner’s muffled tones along with a wondrous beat providing the perfect toe-tapping background that is sure to help the British band win over new fans.
With only 12 songs, AM is a fairly short album, but its influences from the ‘history-of-good-music’ are apparent. It seems Turner and his cohorts understand the values of cross-genre, and whilst they will always be a band with their roots sown in to rock, the group aren’t afraid of trialling new avenues. It’s an incredibly satisfying album, and one which not only captures upon first listen but also grows after play number 2, 3 and 4.
Will I forego Chic for Arctic Monkeys next time there’s a festival clash? Probably not….
Will I be an eager fanboy when the band support the album on tour? Again, probably not.
Will I be listening to this album again and preordering the follow up? At this rate, definitely.
I may not have been a fan to begin with, but the Arctic Monkeys have definitely won me over with AM. It’s been an experience I couldn’t have prepared for, and I’m now left wanting more.