The Arctic Monkeys is a band that has continued to evolve since its first release, and its new effort, “AM,” is a continuation of this growth. This time around, the Sheffield, England natives have created a heavy, dark rock album with plenty of their signature wit.
The band’s strongest asset has always been the amazing lyrics of Alex Turner, the band’s frontman, lyrics that are on one hand strange and on the other completely poignant and brilliant. These lyrics are again at the forefront of the band’s fifth studio album, “AM.”
Turner sets the tone for the album in “Do I Wanna Know?,” singing “‘Cause there’s this tune I found that makes me think of you somehow and I play it on repeat / Until I fall asleep / Spilling drinks on my settee.” The song focuses on the efforts to regain an old love. The band layers thick guitar tunes with rhythmic clapping and drums, making you want to just bob your head constantly. The song is a perfect way to start the album and it is one of the Arctic Monkeys’ all time greats.
Then comes fast-paced “R U Mine,” which keeps Turner’s lyrics churning at top speeds: “She’s a silver lining lone ranger riding / Through an open space / In my mind when she’s not right there beside me.” The song continues this desperate feeling of looking for love where there is little chance. Following “R U Mine” is “One for the Road,” a collaboration with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, a sort of rocky jazz number with dream-like lyrics.
Up next is another pop rock anthem, “Arabella.” The song describes this woman in the strangest ways: “She’s got a Barbarella silver swimsuit / And when she needs to / shelter from reality she takes a dip in my daydreams.” Herein lies the masterstroke of Alex Turner. His lyrics often make no logical sense but they really make us think about the very simple subjects that he dissects.
“I Want It All” comes after “Arabella” and is a more straight-up indie rock song, again focusing on this after-hours lust for love. The next two songs slow things down considerably with great results. “No. 1 Party Anthem” is a slow-moving crooner written as a love letter to those songs that get everyone up and going while satirizing the club scene. “Sunglasses indoors, par for the course / Lights in the floors and sweat on the walls.” Then we move to “Mad Sounds,” another slow love song written to those songs “that make you get up and dance.” Both of these songs are absolutely brilliant with great social critiques on the club scene.
Following “Mad Sounds” is “Fireside,” which brings the tempo back up and gets the album moving at a faster speed again. It’s a pretty average song for them, but Turner’s lyrics shine again. Then we move to one of the best songs on the album: “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” This song really drives home the idea of the late night drunken wanderings of a heartbroken man looking for love. The rollicking beat keeps the song clipping along and keeps you tapping your foot constantly.
Next are the two weakest efforts of the album: “Snap Out of It” and “Knee Socks.” Both keep the tempo moving but are rather unremarkable. “Knee Socks” again features Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme. Even though these two songs are not the best on the album, they are both great little numbers, especially “Snap Out of It,” which has a very sing-along-able nature.
The final song of the album slows it down. “I Wanna Be Yours” is a very sincere love letter to the beloved to whom he has been crooning all night long. The album chronicles the afterhours party culture, bringing us through the different stages of the AM. “I Wanna Be Yours” seems to be that last-ditch sincere effort to find love after all the antics of nighttime.
The Arctic Monkeys’ fifth studio album is a massive success that shows the band exhibiting a new style. They started with true indie beats with their first two albums: “Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not” and “Favorite Worst Nightmare.” Then they moved to grungy garage rock with “Humbug.” After that, the band found pop-rock to be the best setting to write a great breakup album with “Suck It and See.” Now, with “AM,” they’ve entered the world of swinging dark rock anthems with just enough crooning and heavy guitar riffs to match. Where the band will go next is a mystery to anyone, but for now the Arctic Monkeys have just made another brilliant record.