20 September 2013

Arctic Monkeys - AM

More Mercury Music Prize madness here, this time I tackle the Arctic Fucking Monkeys.  They're not really called that, you must understand.  I just don't like them very much.

Arctic Monkeys - AM 

So.  What's my beef with Alex Turner & Co?

Well, I don't know who the rest of the band are to be totally honest, but research tells me the band currently consists of Alex Turner (lead vocals, guitar, electronic organ, keyboards), Jamie Cook (lead & rhythm guitar), Matt Helders (drums, percussion, vocals) Nick O'Malley (bass, vocals).

I've already admitted that my knowledge of this band is minimal, but I'll try to justify my non-liking (hatred is possibly a strong word) of this band here:

Basically, I think I stereotyped both the band, and their fans.  I got the first Mercury Prize 2006 winning album (Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm not - hated that album title.  And artwork).  I enjoyed looking good on the dance floor for a bit, but it all got a bit too "lad culture" for me.  I knew a group of people who were very into th'Arctic Monkeys, and they were dicks.  Football hooligan, cocaine snorting, cigarettes and alcohol dicks.  So naturally, I blamed the band, and never listened to them again.

I now wish to publicly say that I no longer blame the band.

I've listened to AM (the title copies the idea from the Velvet Underground album VU) a few times now, and you know what, it's actually very tolerable.  Lyrically, it's as "commonly intelligent" as I remember it, Turner seems to have a talent in making ordinary words and colloquialisms sound poetic.

'Do I Wanna Know?' opens the album, setting the gloomy tone for a lot of the tracks to follow.  I'd almost call this album Stoner.  Then comes the familiar The album doesn't burst into life, but is still upbeat in a strange way for the first few tracks.  There's heavy nods to The Rolling Stones (One for the Road), Led Zep and/or Sabbath (Arabella).  No 1 Party Anthem continues with the gloom and increases the seedy, goes on for a bit, and could even be Lennon-like, but as I've mentioned, it's tolerable.

When I listen to this album at home, it quickly becomes background music.  But good background music.  There's nobody calling for the 'skip' button right now as I listen to 'Mad Sounds' with it's oooh la la la's.  I'm not that into this track, incidentally, I think it's a bit too dreamy and boring.

The next track, 'Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High' I love.  It's got a very Eminem / Dre like backbeat, if you'll believe that, but with an awesome falsetto on the hook line and it washes over quite nicely.

This album, to me, who has more or less ignored the career of the band, is the sound of a band experimenting with a few different sounds, and doing whatever it is they want.  I'm reminded of Bowie in parts, Queens of the Stone Age in others (Josh Homme appears on here as payback for Turner appearing on Like Clockwork.)  Thing is, it seems that no matter who or what they sound like, they are unmistakeably Arctic Monkeys.  And I almost hate to say it.  No, I'm proud.  I kinda like this album.

I reckon AM has a chance of winning this Mercury thingy.  (Sorry David).

7/10: This is good and well worth a check.

Listen to AM on Spotify
http://www.arcticmonkeys.com/ (Gig in Newcastle on 22 October?!)
Buy AM on Amazon

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