What to Listen To: AM by Arctic Monkeys

AM by Arctic Monkeys
Photo: Domino Publishing Company

The accolades for AM, the 2013 release by Sheffield’s own Arctic Monkeys continue. The album won Album of the Year at this year’s Brit Awards and the band themselves were lauded as Band of the Year as well. If you haven’t heard frontman Alex Turner’s acceptance speech, you are missing out.

As much controversy as it generated, when I first heard it, I thought it was such a ballsy thing to say. Some also used the words ‘arrogant’ and ‘self-indulgent’ – but how utterly rock ‘n’ roll is it to say true rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead amidst the hyper-produced and marketed dross Top 40 charts in the English-speaking world are dominated by? Having actually seen Arctic Monkeys in concert, I can also say, arrogance or not, facade or not, they possess the musical skills, the experience, and general chutzpah to back those statements up. And, in small to medium doses, the ‘tude isn’t tiresome.

Most recently, respected British music publication NME (New Musical Express) held their awards night in late February, and Arctic Monkeys, as the magazine put it “dominated the night” winning Best British Band (won by Biffy Clyro last year), Best Live Band, Best Album, as well as Best Fan Community, with Alex Turner being honoured for Hero of the Year (I wonder when voting closed – the Brits were February 19). All in all, AM was a cracker of an album. What ended up as a lead-off single “R U Mine?” was released early 2012 and AM itself not until 18 months later and I was salivating for an album for at least that long. The guitar parts were incredibly dynamic; rhythmically, it was impossible to sit still; contrast that with masterful phrasing and vocal interest as well.

This from the fan who bought Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not back in 2006, and by the time I had listened to it a few times I thought the songs sounded really same-y. AM does not – it’s visceral, the rhythms almost seductive at times, using such influences as ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll or Motown-reminiscent backing vocals among others, the use of iambs in “Do I Wanna Know” makes for a hypnotic effect because you’re not initially aware that that is what’s going on and when I clued in I thought it was beyond brilliant. If you haven’t paid them much mind up until now, give this one a go – it’s more mature than the first (as it should be), Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme can be heard on the wonderful “One For The Road” as well as on “Knee Socks”, and all in all, AM feels and sounds like a more than worthy successor to Suck It And See.

AM is in my top 3 albums of 2013 (the other two being Biffy Clyro’s Opposites and The Airborne Toxic Event’s Such Hot Blood), with honourable mentions to Imagine Dragons (Night Visions), Atlas Genius (When It Was Now), and the mind-blowingly awesome Stereophonics (Graffiti on the Train). Not surprisingly, all the above comprise my top concerts of 2013 list.

Sigrid Bernhoerster
Sigrid is on

One comment

Comments are closed.