Arctic Monkeys: a name that needs no introduction. Its first album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, became the fastest-selling debut in the history of the UK charts. Arctic Monkeys has since had an impeccable career of immense success and fame, becoming one of England’s most well-known modern rock artists worldwide.
Now, with its sixth studio release AM, Arctic Monkeys proves once again that its recognition is well deserved.
The band has gradually eased into a new style, just as it has with all of its previous releases. Each album sits alone as an individual entity with a bit of influence from former albums scattered throughout. With this strategy, Arctic Monkeys has grown from heavy punk rockers to a suave, mature group that has mastered its sound.
To describe Arctic Monkeys’ new sound in one word: sexy.
With everything from its guitar licks, to Alex Turner’s voice, to the don’t-give-a-fuck attitude the band has given off since day one, this album is the epitome of suave. Arctic Monkeys is still the energy-heavy, gritty band it used to be, but with a lot of added experience and style that allow it to express that mood in a more mature way.
Two big factors in the transformation are new influences and a change of scenery for the band. The album was recorded in two different studios in California, which makes sense, given the inspiration for the album. Turner cites influences like west coast hip-hop, old-school R&B, and metal gods Black Sabbath. Despite how wrong and jumbled this sounds, Arctic Monkeys has managed to play off of each of these to make something original and lucid.
The hip-hop influence is apparent in album intro “Do I Wanna Know?” The synthesized kick-clap combo is alien to the band’s previous music, which often focused on the drummer Matt Helders’ energy, but goes well with the new material. Helders is much tamer on AM, a characteristic that may surprise old fans, but he is still as prominent as ever.
One of the other most noticeable differences is in the background falsetto, courtesy of Helders and bassist Nick O’Malley. It adds freshness to the album, contributing a new element to the band’s sound. Although it wasn’t present on the rest of Arctic Monkeys’ music, it feels completely natural—so much so that it’s hard to imagine the band without it.
Arctic Monkeys has carried over some of the distinctive elements of its most recent album Suck It and See in songs like the cleverly titled “No. 1 Party Anthem” and album closer “I Wanna Be Yours.” Both tracks, as well as a few others on the release, are much more mellowed out than the band’s earlier work. Arctic Monkeys does a stellar job of transitioning from the faster, heavier songs like “R U Mine?” to those subdued jams.
It’s obvious that the band was trying to give off a certain feel with AM, one of cocky self-assurance that fits so well with Turner’s voice and new style.
In “Arabella,” which has a somewhat foreign groove in the verse and reeks of Black Sabbath during the chorus, he sings about an erotic woman who drives him crazy, and entertains listeners with one of the best solos on the album.
AM is a combination of everything Arctic Monkeys fans have come to love: the fuzzy punk rock; the soothing, emotional slow tracks; the justifiably-arrogant nature of Turner; and the newfound savviness the band has mastered with AM.
The initial shock of the band’s new style will take a little time to get used to, but AM will please every type of Arctic Monkeys fan, and those who haven’t heard of them yet. After this gargantuan album and the subsequent worldwide tour, no one will be asking, “Who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys?”
Arctic Monkeys – AM tracklist:
- “Do I Wanna Know?”
- “R U Mine?”
- “One for the Road”
- “I Want It All”
- “No. 1 Party Anthem”
- “Mad Sounds”
- “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”
- “Snap Out of It”
- “Knee Socks”
- “I Wanna Be Yours”