English Indie band Arctic Monkeys have put out five albums since their first studio release in 2006, and with each new album their sound has changed significantly. Their past three collections have been committed to carrying on the garage-rock style and quick and unique vocals that made their first release one of the bestselling albums at the time. Fortunately, the group’s hard work seems to have paid off as the years have passed; each new album has been a perfect example of how a good band’s music should grow in intensity as their talents develop. In accordance with this ideology, AM, the band’s fifth compilation, is a different vein of music than what Arctic Monkeys has made in the past.
AM is, according to Monkeys front man Alex Turner, meant to sound “less like four lads playing in a room” and more like a hip-hop record with an Arctic Monkeys twist. The album opens up with “Do I Wanna Know?” a song that is carried by a slow, modified footstep and hand-clap that mirrors the bass/hi-hat combination that is common in current pop songs. The song as a whole has a dark and foreboding style that starkly contrasts the upbeat and quick sound of the band’s previous hits, such as “Brianstorm” and “Fluorescent Adolescent,” and sets the tone for the entire album.
The next track, “R U Mine?” carries the dark tones of “Do I Wanna Know?” while also having an aggressive guitar and drum presence that is reminiscent of the sounds of Favourite Worst Nightmare, the band’s second album, while still remaining distinct.
AM’s fourth song, “Arabella,” is a completely unique song that sounds like nothing Arctic Monkeys has ever done before. The song opens with the deliberate drums and vocals that created the dark tone of the album’s first two songs, but the chorus is oddly reminiscent of some classic rock songs, with bright, rapid power chords and slightly modulated voice that would make the track fit in a Guitar Hero game.
It is perhaps the most mature and developed piece of work that Arctic Monkeys has created.
The album’s ninth song, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” is perhaps the greatest example of how the album pursues a hip-hop sound, with a deliberate drum opening that is heavy on the bass, and background vocals that highlight Turner’s singing style and serve as a form of punctuation for the vocal lines. The penultimate song on the album, “Knee Socks,” starts to wrap up the album with an odd combination of AM’s dark undertones and serious lyrics with the well-known Arctic Monkeys guitar sounds and bright riffs that have always done an excellent job of introducing verses and choruses in the past. The album closes with “I Wanna Be Yours,” a song that uses a combination of vocals, bass, guitar and drums to make it abundantly obvious what the tone of the album is meant to be.
AM, as a whole, is less immediately catchy and likeable than previous Arctic Monkeys albums. This does not mean that AM is a worse album than what they have released before; on the contrary, it is perhaps the most mature and developed piece of work that Arctic Monkeys has created. It displays the band’s development from the catchy garage-rock group they used to be into the world-renowned and unique phenomenon they are today. Those looking for an album that is not bright in tone but is absolutely full of fantastic instrumentation and quality music should definitely give AM a listen. Arctic Monkeys will be in Atlanta playing at the Music Midtown Festival on Sept. 21 as part of their AM tour.