The Arctic Monkeys return is an acquired taste and although it is a far cry from their best album, it is an admirable venture into uncharted territory; with Alex Turner reaching new levels of adverse lyricism.
Sheffield based indie rock band Arctic Monkeys are finally back with their sixth studio album after a five year absence since their 2013 release ‘AM‘ and their arrival has been met with an entirely new sound, unlike just about anything they have brought out before.
In a recent interview, frontman Alex Turner discussed the direction of the album and claimed that he was struggling to find influence when working with a guitar, instead finding new ideas from playing the piano.
“I love playing guitar, obviously. I’ve played loads of it on this record, but as a writing tool, I’d reached a point where it wasn’t getting me anywhere. “I don’t remember having very many ideas before I sat down at the piano.”
The sound is very abstract from start to finish, moving away from their traditional sounds and continuing the progression of their music. It is highly symbolic of throwback jazz or even space pop at times, using lush sounding production and touching on influences of the likes of David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave.
The lyrical content is wacky but masterful at times, so much so that I have compiled a list of great examples of hilarious metaphors and witticisms from wordsmith Alex Turner in each song:
- “What do you mean you’ve never seen Blade Runner?” – Star Treatment
- Dancing in my underpants, I’m gonna run for government” – One Point Perspective
- “My virtual reality mask is stuck on ‘Parliament Brawl'” – American Sports
- “I’ve been on a bender back to that prophetic esplanade” – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
- “The leader of the free world reminds you of a wrestler wearing tight golden trunks” – Golden Trunks
- “Hokey Cokey with the opposite sex” – Four Out Of Five
- “You and Genie wearing Stetson hats trying to gain access to my lilypad” – The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip
- “I feel rougher than a disco lizard tongue along your cheek” – Science Fiction
- “Good Morning Cheeseburger” – She Looks Like Fun
- “Killer Pink Flamingos computer controlled” – Batphone
- “It stays between us, Steinway, and the sons because it’s the Ultracheese” – The Ultracheese
On first listen I really wasn’t sure; after the second listen I still wasn’t; but I never stopped coming back to it for some strange reason. It has to be one of the most intriguing listens I have experienced in a long time and I say that with ultimate sincerity, I find myself trying to grasp what he means and that alone is enthralling. If I were to have reviewed this based on my first two or three listens, I would have been looking at around a five or six out of ten; but thanks to the beauty of time and patience I have learned to really like this album for what it is; a wacky free-for-all with introspective wordplay and stripped back production, seeing jazzy space-pop as the next logical step in the band’s wild journey.
If you wanted the old Arctic Monkeys sound then keep dreaming, that ship has sailed and we have to deal with that. If you are too narrow-minded to appreciate something new then steer well clear of this, I’m looking at you Dark Fruits Twitter…
If, however, you are someone who accepts and acknowledges that musicians adapt over time, especially those with the ambition of Alex Turner, then you should really try this if you haven’t already. It’ll take time to sink in, but once it does and you take it about as seriously as Turner does sometimes, you’ll be just fine and you’ll be pleasantly surprised, regardless of what Courteeners fans tell you on the Internet.