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KUMD Album Reviews: AM
The Arctic Monkeys are no strangers to a good dose of unintentional fame. All of their previous albums have shot straight to the top of the UK music charts, and their newest release is no different. They’re breaking UK chart records for the fifth consecutive time with their newest release, AM, and they show no signs of stopping. It’s almost funny, as they set out with no identifiable intention to make immediate fame with their music.
Formed in 2002, they were one of the first groups to gain major public attention through the internet, although they did not create their initial Myspace page themselves – fan-based and run, the content consisted of free demos that they handed out at their shows, rather than paid promotions and radio appearances. While they started with five, the band has four current members – Alex Turner (guitar/vocals), Jamie Cook (guitar), Nick O'Malley (bass/backing vocals), and Matt Helders (drums/backing vocals). Between their uniquely British post-punk-revival aesthetic from their early albums, lead singer and creative force behind the group, Alex Turner, has associated with Josh Homme of the Queens of the Stone Age since 2008, and much of their material sense has shown heavy influence taken from this aesthetic. This is highly apparent in their newest release, AM – from the first track to the last, the songs are almost leaking with Queens of the Stone Age influence. One of the key features unique to the Arctic Monkeys is that their musical style generally falls under "indie rock" and yet they alter their "rock" aesthetic through every album. Probably the most distinctive continuous feature is Turner's vocal style – a rapid-fire Sheffield accent delivering quick witticisms laced with just a bit of sarcasm ("I Bet that You Look Good on the Dancefloor", anyone?). While this kind of lyrical delivery is present in AM, the poetic content swings more towards abstracted nostalgia than wit. It makes sense, as Homme's influence brings up the psychedelic-slash-desert-rock factor and slows down the tempo to reveal deep, guitar-based riff-work and blues-ish jams, although it's not entirely without the trademark Arctic Monkeys' English style. Turner, in an interview with NME, stated other influences such as hip-hop and the Beatles' "I am the Walrus", the result being "like a Dr. Dre beat, but we've given it an Ike Turner bowl-cut and sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster." It's a bit vague, but it works; it's no wonder they're sitting at the top of the UK charts again, and it feels like the Arctic Monkeys have barely even gotten started. AM is kind-of dark, kind-of British, kind-of indie, kind-of distorted, and all Arctic Monkeys.
Recommended Tracks: "Do I Wanna Know?", "Arabella", "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're
High?", "Knee Socks"
Sounds Like: Queens of the Stone Age, The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, Kasabian, The Black Keys