The Arctic Monkeys fifth studio album, AM, is a triumph, firmly establishing the band as a mainstay of British popular music. Easily their best since their stellar debut in 2006, this new record draws on a huge range of influences, from 90’s grunge to 70’s glam rock and funk, to produce an album that is eclectic and exciting without losing any of the band’s signature sound. It’s impossible to even attempt to pigeonhole the Arctic Monkeys anymore, despite their indie rock beginnings. With AM, they’ve shown themselves to be a band that has truly transcended its roots, and proven that they have staying power.
Now based in Los Angeles, the Arctic Monkeys have embraced the darker, heavier sound that was most closely associated with their third album, 2009’s Humbug, with the ongoing help of Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. That’s not to say that AM sounds strictly like a rock record, or anything like the Queens Of The Stone Age. It’s more experimental than Humbug was, and lacks some of the poppier vibe that 2011’s Suck It and See. There were suspicions that Alex Turner had given way to a stronger hip-hop influence in the making of this record after his NME interview earlier this summer, and this is most apparent in AM’s “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” while R&B’s influence on the band comes out clear in “Do I Wanna Know?” Fans of the collaboration between Josh Homme and the Arctic Monkeys will be pleased to hear his distinctive vocals on “Knee Socks”, but for the most part his influence his less apparent on this AM. All through the record, Turner’s witty, wise lyrics take centre stage, proving that although the sound may have changed since 2006, all the best elements of the band are still going strong. There’s just been a whole lot of progress since then, with great things still to come.