Album Review... Arctic Monkeys - AM

'AM' opens with powerful single "Do I Wanna Know?" that really sets the mood for the rest of the album: dark, sexy, gritty and stunningly climactic. We are then swiftly taken onto "R U Mine?", a single released in early 2012 that arguably, could be where the hype for the album really originated. These are both songs we all know and love, so it's difficult to really take them in again, but if you imagine it's your first listen, you can really be taken away with them. Next up is future single contender "One For The Road", this is where we first truly see what Alex Turner meant when he said "It sounds like a Dr Dre beat" when talking about 'AM'. We also see the falsetto that we can be sure to get to know and love in this album. "Arabella" follows in much the same fashion as its predecessor. A strong punchy bass line, a helping of falsetto, and the infamously stunning lyrics of Alex Turner. "I Want It All" stands out for its awesome guitar riffs and "outer-space" sound and lyrics. We see a change in pace in "No.1 Party Anthem", which could easily feature in Turner's Submarine soundtrack. It's in this kind of setting that we see Alex Turner's skill with lyrics really shine. This ballad really helps ease us into to the lowest track of the album "Mad Sounds" that offers a fantastic down-time for the "interval" of this performance. This track features an organ and backing falsetto that is reminiscent of gospel.

We are now into the latter half of the album. We've enjoyed a stunning opening to the show and have finished our overpriced ice-cream in "Mad Sounds". We are suddenly brought back by a lively and awesome intro to "Fireside". This track really has to be a highlight of the album. There's again the Dr Dre-esque beats, an awesome bass line and that awesome falsetto. The organ still features in this song throughout, and in turn with the synths, punchy drums and bass line, and distorted guitars really makes for a song filled with juxtapostion and awe. Single "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?" is another familiar one, that when placed into the album really fits in whilst distinguishing itself. We see the (very pronounced) influence of late-90's Dr Dre, but an organ still features very softly. This is really brought together by Turner's distinctive style and vocals. "Snap Out Of It" keeps very much in the mood of the album, and has one of the catchiest non-single choruses. It's now that we start to really notice and appreciate every little tambourine and hand-clap that the band has spent over a year in an LA recording studio perfecting. "Knee Socks" is yet another stunner. It's dark, sexy and everything that 'AM' stands for. Falsetto really characterises the chorus, and the lyrics especially do the song justice in the verses. This track also really proves just how well the hip-hop style of bass lines featuring throughout the album work with the more "classic-rock" style distorted guitar line, provided by Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme. This album finishes on an infamous Arctic Monkeys "dark final track". These are the songs that end festival sets with tears and end up being the most quoted. What's truly interesting about this track in particular is that the lyrics are taken straight from the John Cooper Clarke poem by the same name. Whilst Turner cannot take credit for the (tear-jerking) lyrics, he can take credit for the incredible musicality of the track that causes the album to end in such a way that you just want more.

This album is very easy to praise, but incredibly difficult to criticise. One may say that the tracks are very similar in the respect that they are dark, one could also argue that it would go against the tone and mood of the album for it to be any other way. Arctic Monkeys have spent the most time they;ve ever spent on an album with 'AM', and it shows. They've done another 'Humbug' and changed their style even more dramatically than they already do between every album. It's great that the Arctic Monkeys are progressing, and what's truly exciting is that it feels like this isn't the final progression and that there is even greater to come from this band from Sheffield. With 'AM' we've really seen Arctic Monkeys break free from a genre, and really confirm that they have become artists and are not afraid to dictate their own direction.

Arctic Monkeys - AM
Out of 10 - 10/10

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