Are the Arctic Monkeys back?
My love affair with the Arctic Monkeys is as long-standing and hopeful as much of my generation. When they first came along they were ballsy, they were oh-so-very-cool and they were hugely relatable. They were the first band to shun the record labels and release their EPs solely on the internet (what?!?).
For people of my age (late 80s/early 90s babies), they were “our” first real, British indie band. As much as we listened to the Oasis and Blur discography’s on repeat, we were just a little too late to see them at their prime and to really grasp what they were all about. Then Alex Turner and his boys came along with that driving, cocky, Northern sound. Their lyrics were incredibly insightful and often hilarious, and they were never the wrong side of that soppy, teenage angst sound. They blew us away and we loved them for it.
Their first two albums are still ingrained in my brain. That gig at a packed Manchester Apollo, saturated in sweat, surrounded by my best mates will live long in the memory. And you can play me pretty much any track off either of those albums and I am bound to start singing the majority of the words whilst reminiscing about awkward fumbles at school discos.
Then they went and did their thing. They experimented a little. They slowed it down and developed their sound. And my belief in them never swayed. Anyone claiming that, “The Arctic Monkeys are shit now” were always quickly chastised and told that they were simply doing what any good bands does. That they neither wanted nor needed to just write chart hits and that they would come back good.
And now, with the impending release of their fifth studio album, I believe we have them back. Their sound has clearly matured. The influence of James Homme, frontman of Queens of the Stone Age, being clearly apparent. They retain that imminently likable arrogance, Alex Turner’s lyrics are still superb, that driving beat remains but they have developed this deeper, harder, fuller sound. There is a definite abrasiveness but it has that element of a superbly crafted “groove”. It challenges. And especially in a world dominated by the electronic, synthetic sounds of house, the Arctic Monkeys have developed something which can not only hold its own but can attract all those electronic converts back. I imagine less piss-throwing and football shirts and a little more partying to take place at one of their gigs now.
See for yourself.
Arctic Monkey – R U Mine?
Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know
Arctic Monkeys – Why’d You Only Call Me When Your High?