The Arctic Monkeys, after leaving fans on edge with their 2012 single “R U Mine?” return with a new album best described as cool, bluesy rock, characteristic of this British indie band. Perhaps inspired by their parents’ old record collection, this fifth LP stands out mostly due to its sinuous and “arctic” pulse, different from the fast-paced Suck It and See that they released back in 2011. The songs on this track list are slow-churning and devious; AM itself is a nighttime stroll through the city, when its late enough for the truth to come out.
“Have you got color in your cheeks?” croons Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner on the album’s opener, “Do I Wanna Know?”. The song is a statement of the band’s change in sound; it’s an edgy, crawling tribute to an unnamed lover. It’s followed by “R U mine?” familiar already because it was released nearly a year ago, but still never grows old and proves to be a nice addition to the album. “One For the Road”’s steady tempo make for a nice continuation from the previous song, with its soft falsetto chorus and catchy instrumentals. “Arabella” shows influence from their touring days with The Black Keys, and “I Want It All” contrasts as a slow-burning, tender lullaby.
“No. 1 Party Anthem” is, as expected, a misnomer. It’s a swooning melody that could have any teenage girl fawning over Alex Turner’s slick voice and leather jacket. Following that is “Mad Sounds”, set at a similar pace, and though it might have you wondering exactly when AM will gain some momentum, it’s a relaxing track. “Fireside”, one of the weakest tracks on the album, was probably not best suited to follow the mellow “Mad Sounds”, and is a bit dizzying by the end, though things certainly pick up at “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”, undoubtedly AM‘s best track. I could talk endlessly about this song, if only because it’s one of the best tracks this English band has yet to produce. “Snap out of it” is a bit more dancey, with a simple rhythm and more showing of the boys’ rock and roll ability.
Though I would’ve loved for this album to be more than 12 songs, AM is high on my list of favorite albums of 2013, and it’s not only because I have a soft spot for British boy bands. The Arctic Monkeys haven’t received the full recognition that they deserve in the U.S.; they’re quite underrated, and most people have never even heard of them, despite Alex Turner’s and his band mates’ impeccable talent.
Though I’d eventually slip into some kind of coma if I listened to this album on repeat, I think it stands as one of the Arctic Monkeys greatest creations. The title of this savvy LP probably suggests when they expect you to listen to it; late at night when you can’t fall asleep (unless they just felt like making a cool acronym out of their band name). AM is at a slow and comfortable pace, but maybe at times it’s a bit too safe for the Arctic Monkeys, are capable of much more. Nonetheless, this album has soul, and, if anything, it’s exactly what we should expect from these boys. Score 9/10.
Strongest tracks: “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”, “No. 1 Party Anthem”, “I Wanna Be Yours”
Weakest tracks: “Fireside”, “Snap Out Of It”
Nataly Capote/A&E Editor