Arctic Monkeys continue their era of ascension

Arctic MonkeysFIVE albums in a whirlwind seven years – for some, would be seen as too fast, rushed and far too certain of your popularity to the masses. Yet digging deeper, in truth, Alex Turner hasn’t even stopped for the other two years (See The Last Shadow Puppets, Submarine and circumnavigating the globe on tour for further proof of his unwillingness to stop, ‘rest’ or take an now infamous ‘break’).

A keen eye would probably put this down to an Arctic Monkeys togetherness like no other. A band forged on success, not only on both sides of the pond, but now globally. A meteoric rise to stardom and world fame, which for the first time in decades hasn’t seen the proverbial ‘wheels’ fall off the tour bus (See The Strokes for the most disappointing collapses of recent times).

Another harbinger of recent successes could be down to sheer songwriting excellence. Sounding simple in conclusion, AM continues to buck the trend. Continuing another tradition of producing or appearing on each others album, Josh Homme takes another welcomed return to proceedings (‘Knee Socks’) alongside The Corals, Bill Ryder-Jones (‘Fireside’). The QOTSA stalwart has had a long-standing connection with the band since their Humbug days and continues to enhance their ever changing sound. An interesting inclusion is John Cooper-Clarke’s ‘Wanna Be Yours’, a triumphant ending to the album and huge thumbs up to one of Turner’s biggest inspirations lyrically.

Stand out tracks ‘I Want It All’, ‘One For The Road’ and ‘Arabella’ (a certainty for Bay Radio playlists this year) give the album the gusto that perhaps Suck it and See was unfortunately missing. AM caresses and cavorts from start to finish, producing tunes to suit the intimate gig venues alongside beautiful stadium anthems that have all the hallmarks of classic Alex Turner sing-alongs. ‘Mad Sounds’ standing out with an accompaniment of ‘Ooh, La, La, La’s’ from Helders on drums (which you can just imagine being written with intention of twenty or so thousand fans chorusing back).

Perhaps an anarchic knock at current musical wallpaper within chart music, or simply harmless fun – ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ provides the ‘lighters in the air’ moment and echoes sounds of John, George, Paul and Ringo (remembering the rendition of ‘Come Together’ not too long ago in the Olympic Park).

AM still plays host to the pre-released hits, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ and ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, alongside the superb ‘R U Mine?’, released well over a year ago. Alex Turner made a point of stating the release of the aforementioned single signalled a new direction, with an R’n’B twist (50 Cent ‘In da club’ has been quoted!). With heads puzzled, the album does throw in some unexpected curve-balls. No more so than ‘Snap Out Of It’, which could quite easily fall into a Muse and Hoosier filled trifle (it pains me to point this out).

Criticisms have been directed at their moves to L.A and distance from the sweaty walls of Sheffield’s Leadmill and Boardwalk as a mere travesty for the band, and indicative of Alex’s ‘whimsicle’ ‘trippy’ lyrics (circa. Humbug), or Elvis impersonation on stage at Glastonbury. I fail to see how a band could continue to regurgitate popular, relational experiences and still develop as a band. I’ll agree, the bands lifestyle has taken the expected spiral to ‘celebrity’ – over ‘local hero’, but is Matt Helders hanging out with P Diddy a problem or quite simply a fairytale for the boys from the Steel City?

One certain three-letter acronymic music fanzine triumphantly hailed AM as a definite 10 out of 10 – mere perfection. Yet I would prefer to hold a much more muted portrayal of this, what must be said, excellent L.P. Just as you cannot rate your favourite film, football player or university course crush a full 10 out of 10 (sorry, if you do…stop), it leaves no room for improvement, nor an hankering for more. That sort of praise would leave Alex, Jamie, Nick and Matt in utter rock and roll utopia, before they have reached the mere age of 30. So all I ask, as a huge fan, is to lay off the gas. If this is year seven and album five – surely you must be as excited as I am for Alex Turner’s next move, still in his and the Arctic’s ascendency and into a new decade…