September 5, 2013

Marco vs Chester: Arctic Monkeys - AM (2013)

"Its the work of a band still growing, still fine tuning, still learning and still experimenting; a band who will not look back at this record as a career high, but as the moment they stopped being defined by genre and instead become artists. Not a rock band, definitely not a indie band, bur artists. Think Bowie, think The Beatles, think Stevie Wonder and think Bob Dylan. From this point on, Arctic Monkeys can do whatever they want, sound however they like and always be Arctic Monkeys. But that's all for another day, sometime in their stupidly bright future. For now, we should celebrate this record for what it is - 41 minutes and 57 seconds of near perfection." - NME


I am so angry. So, so, so angry that Arctic Monkeys flat-out lied to everybody and got away with it just because they're so hip and edgy. They've promised us a more heavy, stoner-rock approach, and what we got instead are some stupid modern ballads about getting high, being a ''weekend rock star'', getting shit-faced while sporting a leather jackets and Grease-like hair-dos and some other totally forgettable songs that sound like weak Humbug b-sides. And believe it or not, that's not even the problem here. If a band promises to take a certain approach and doesn't do it, I can totally understand that. Things change, people change; maybe they hit a dead end and they're forced to start everything from scratch, whatever. But teasing the fans two fucking years prior to the release with a song that you'd later confirm as being ''your new stoner-rock new sound'' ( R U Mine), releasing another single one year later that sounds exactly the same (Do You Wanna Know), and including them into your new album together with a bunch of fucking snore fests that sound NOTHING like you promised they will is not the way to go. What I'm trying to say here, in case you're wondering, is that you're a bunch of fucking liars who have taken advantage of the massive ass-kissing campaign that the so called ''music press'' has started a couple of years ago in the most devious and cold-blooded way possible and you should be ashamed of yourselves. /rant

I don't even know what to say about the music itself, because my rant (which I wrote  at 4 A.M.) pretty much sums up all of my thoughts and feelings about AM. I've let it sit for nearly a day, hoping that I would change my mind about it and delete it, or at least edit bits of it. Obviously, I didn't. But for the sake of  fair and constructive critique, I'm gonna TRY to offer AM a proper review. Let's just hope I won't get angry in  the process.

The opening track, Do I Wanna Know (fittingly enough) represents everything Arctic Monkeys promised and failed to deliver. It's dirty and edgy, albeit a tad slow-paced and ZzZ-worthy if you're not in the right mood. R U Mine is, well... I like it. Sometimes. When I'm drunk and I feel like trashing shit and pissing away all the alcohol I've consumed in the bathroom of some sleazy pub. Fortunately, I've never felt the urge to start  bar fights and engage into random acts of vandalism, so I have no reason whatsoever to listen to it. Arabella alternates between the fuzzy, stoner-rock sound that should have been the center of the album and some boring, overly pretentious slow segments that only serve the purpose of ruining the song. One thing I liked about it though was the smart Beatles refere--- Fuck you, I'm not falling for that. Oh, and Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High has a pretty cool video. The song's mediocre at its best.

The rest of the tracks are so boring and forgettable that I left the album playing in the background several times and didn't even realize it was over. Not once did I unconsciously tap my foot against the floor, like I usually do, nor did I restart the song midway through it because I like it so much. It's bland, unimaginative and, most of all, the biggest cop-out in the history of music. Instead of like, REALLY experimenting, they've returned to safe territory. And you know what's the really sad thing? That everyone will praise them, from the lowest of fanboys to the so called music critics who sell their words. thoughts and integrity to whoever offers the bigger check. They're hip, they're cool and they wear leather jackets, which qualifies them for a safe spot in the ''edge of the mainstream'' i.e. the starting point for bands with a cult following who suddenly become ridiculously notorious. It's just a matter of time until they'll get to the real mainstrean.

If you've been following the Monkeys since their formation, please, avoid AM like the plague. It's not worth it. If you're a newcomer, well, whatever rocks your boat. Just don't touch me.


I'm not angry. I'm just terribly underwhelmed. Like Marco, I remember promises of things getting heavier and dirtier. I was expecting an evolution from Suck It And See (which I loved, by the way), a sound that would fit even better with Alex Turner's bad boy image and Matt Helders' hardass look. Filthy distortion, pounding drums, screaming guitar solos and a fuck-all attitude to go with all those leather jackets and slicked-back hairstyles, yet with sensitive thoughts and feelings of heartbreak and romance at the core. 

Off the whole album, only R U Mine? fulfills this implicit promise. And boy, how it fulfills it! From the first distorted note to the bulldozing drumming by Helders and all the way up to Turner's excellent vocals and Cook's labyrinthic and precise riffing, R U Mine? is the embodiment of everything I wanted from the new Arctic Monkeys album and a fantastic track in itself. 

Another high point of AM is Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High? in which Matt Helders and Nick O'Malley channel their inner 80s rap producers and kick out a groovy and rhythmic jam, over which Alex lays down his catchy, cryptic rhymes and an infectious chorus that's backed by some very discrete guitar chords that allow the vocals and rhythmic section to take center stage. 

Unfortunately, everything else is, quite frankly, totally forgettable. There's a chunk of songs, between tracks #3 and #8, that's full of ballads that sound like recycled bits from Humbug. There's nothing memorable going on in any aspect, which in turn transforms Turner's lyrics from mysteriously cute to mildly irritating. Sure, there are some funky groovy parts in certain songs and the production work is stellar, as it would be expected from a band which makes a billion dollars every day, but the overall feeling of the rest of the album is "I feel like I've heard it all before, only it was better". 

Like I said, I loved Suck It And See, even though I was apprehensive of it at first. After a dozen or so listens, one day it just clicked. I feel the same way about AM. I was expecting something rough'n'tough and an evolution in sound. Instead, it feels like the band is retreating already familiar territory, comfortable in rehashing things they did several years ago. AM might click for me later. I hope it does, although only liking 2 songs out of 12 isn't a very good omen. 

One final thought: this album has made me realize how much I dislike Alex Turner's look and attitude. His rockabilly pomade-ridden hairstyle, the leather jackets, the comb he keeps in the breast pocket and the practiced motion of pulling it out and slicking back the sides of his hair - all of it is so fake and engineered to look vintage-cool, it's sickening. I can appreciate Matt Helders keeping on his track pants and chewing gum for 11 years straight - it shows personality and a strong character which isn't swayed back and forth between trends. Alex Turner, instead, looks like a fucking Ken doll, only scrawnier and holding the guitar and comb accessories in his hands while recording songs on his retro 4-track cassette player, because that's the only way to write. I'm looking forward to the day when he becomes a human being again. 


  1. Prea multe cuvinte pentru o formatie random de indie rock.

  2. From what I read here, I think it's safe to assume that both of you hate this album, or more correctly, you are very disappointed by it. I agree with a lot of what was said here, but at the same time I don't think this is a bad album, but a very decent one. I was a little bit underwhelmed at first, but it grew on me with every listen. For me, it's a combination between Humbug and SIAS.

    I think it's safe to say that this is the most homogenous album they have done, the singing part is better that ever (although I'm a little worried about the live performances), but the lyrics aren't as good as before. One thing that really annoys me is the abundance of backing vocals. If I remember correctly, they are in every song and I think in some of the cases they are really unecessary.

    My favourite songs from the album are Knee Socks (which I find catchy and I also love Josh Homme's part), Fireside, DIWK, Snap Out of It (I find this one catchy as well) and No.1 Party Anthem (which reminds me a lot of Submarine). Concerning the other songs, I like them very much, except I Want It All, which I think is the weakest song on the album (although I quite like the second part of it). Also, a lot of people say that from now on their closer track should be I Wanna Be Yours, but even though I'm a bit tired of 505, I don't think IWBY is as "strong" as the latter. Speaking of IWBY, I wish it was longer (just a few more seconds or something).

    So yeah, all in all, I really like this album and hopefully I'll receive it next week. Is this their best one? No, but at the same time I can't say this is a regression either. I guess it's just different, as every of the past albums was. Also, AM is definitely a grower.

    Now, as for the other part of the post (the one about "Alex Turner's look and attitude") I kind of agree. Do I like his new style? Yes... but I don't like his new attitude (on stage). I tend to hate this "new and improved" Alex, because I find it fake. It's like he's
    trying too hard and I feel awkward while watching him. His stage presence is cringe worthy sometimes..."he comb he keeps in the breast pocket and the practiced motion of pulling it out and slicking back the sides of his hair"-> don't even get me started on this one. But again, a lot of people seem to absolutely love it and I understand why: he DOES have a stage presence now, he's not just standing there anymore and it seems that he's having a good time on stage (most of the time). I guess the "quiet and introverted" Alex is gone forever. At the same time, when he's not on stage, he seems to be a generally nice guy and during the interviews he's the same old Alex.

    PS: Imi cer scuze pentru greselile facute...nici macar nu stiu de ce am scris in engleza...

    1. First of all, congrats on pulling off the longest comment we've ever had the pleasure to receive on our website :D

      Now, as for AM, I agree - it is a grower. Much like everything else they've released. It took me a very long time to get into Humbug and Favorite Worst Nightmare, because the departure in style and sound from WPSIATWIN was too shocking for me. Going from garage-y indie rock to the much more complex and better produced sound of these two albums was a bit sudden, but once I properly got into them, I couldn't stop listening. Same for SIAS, I wasn't too impressed with it at first, but now it's probably my favorite Arctic Monkeys album. So maybe AM will grow on me more.

      But yeah, definitely the most homogenous album they have done so far, with the wow factor in the lyrics toned down.

      Thanks for your comment Andreea, always happy to discuss stuff here :)

    2. Yay!:D Thank you and congratulations! I think you've done a great job with this website and I'm glad I discovered it. As for my favorite album, I think it is Humbug, though it's quite difficult to decide. :)

    3. Thanks, that means a lot to us!

  3. This IS Arctic Monkey's best album. Its a masterpiece. A fucking giant grower. This review was bad because it was rushed and filled with useless anger. Cant stop listening to the album. Every song is another kind of magic.