It is hard to comprehend that AM is the fifth studio album from Arctic Monkeys. Was it really so long ago that they burst on to the scene with that single? Even harder to comprehend though is how fucking good is it. From start to finish AM is a masterpiece from a band that have not so much matured but become full fledged artists in their own right. So they grew up a little, experienced more but AM proves that Arctic Monkeys can do what the hell they want now – they’re still experimenting, fine-tuning but they no longer need to be defined by a genre, nor do they really need anyone’s approval because they already made it.
The twelve tracks recorded at Sage & Sound Recording in Los Angeles and Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, California feature guest appearances from Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Elvis Costello’s drummer Pete Thomas and lyrics from poet legend John Cooper-Clark (I mean, need I say more or are you already away grabbing a copy…)? From start to finish it is a seamless journey through parties, sex, lust, late nights, bad decisions and frustration – all brilliantly illustrated by Turner’s mind-fuckingly sharp lyrics.
Arguably the best of those lyrics feature on ‘Arabella,’ “Arabella’s got some interstellagator skin boots/And a helter-skelter around her little finger and I ride it endlessly.” The whole track rolls off Turner’s tongue effortlessly at quite a pace and over perhaps the heaviest sound on the album. ‘I Want It All’ reminisces the past and Turner shows off his vocal ability as he hit some higher notes.
While opener ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ harks back to some of Monkeys earlier material, slower tracks such as ‘No.1 Party Anthem’ and ‘Mad Sounds’ could have been plucked from Turner’s own Submarine album. Both showcase Turner’s voice like never before.
‘Fireside’ is a definite stand out favourite. Catchy as anything it rattles on perfectly over bouncy drums before the darker, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ drags you on a journey through a rough night out, fuelled by booze, drugs and a rocky relationship. All of which is somehow beautifully juxtaposed over Matt Helder’s hip-hop influenced drums.
‘Snap Out Of It’ is an upbeat little number; light-hearted it is a refresher mood changer which leads perfectly on to another jiggly number, ‘Knee Socks.’ Closing track, the glam-rock influenced and gloomy, ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ – taken from a John Cooper-Clark poem – stomps along and winds down the LP to a close. These may not be Turner’s lyrics but putting such a track on the album proves his confidence – he didn’t write it but he could and he will because I am pretty sure the best it still yet to come.
This is not a typical fifth album from a band struggling to clutch the last straws of a career; this is Arctic Monkeys making their own rules, proving themselves yet again and this is n’t even them peaking their career. The release of ‘R U Mine?’ may have hinted at great things when it was released but it didn’t quite prepare me for the tour de force that is AM. Arctic Monkeys don’t even need a fanfare when they release anything anymore, they know they’re good and so do we.
Go listen for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.