GENRES: Alternative, Indie Rock, Alternative Rock, Rock, Pop Rock
TOP TRACKS: Do I Wanna Know?, R U Mine?, Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?
Arctic Monkeys have been one of the biggest British Bands to hit the scene recently behind only Muse really. The band shot their way to stardom with their debut album, "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" which felt like an adrenaline shot of energy that re-vitalized the rock scene. The band's youthful and high-octane style of alternative rock quickly made them international superstars in the music scene as they were on the road to becoming one of the biggest bands around. However, at some point in time Arctic Monkeys seemed to be complacent and comfortable with their spot in the music industry and it was about right after their sophomore LP, "Favorite Worst Nightmare" that they started to take their foots off of the pedal.
Understandably enough, money is important in the music industry and Arctic Monkeys were charting and selling very well. However albums like "Humbug" and "Suck it and See" featured slower pacing, abridged songwriting technique and overall a certain sense of mediocrity that came when the band settled for being better than average. This level of indifference really came around to bite Arctic Monkeys on the behind as their new album AM comes off as incredibly middle of the pack despite the few brights spots which make me even more angrier considering that Arctic Monkeys are still very talented despite the fact they just sound confused and bored on this record.
Of course there were the highlights, like the single "Do I Wanna Know?" which was released over a year before the album was dropped. It's slow but cool and the riff is really nicely played. I also love how the vocal melodies in the chorus really compliment the riff which make for a really nice connection of sounds. The consistent bass drum beating throughout the duration of this song and the catchy quality of this melody are elements of pop-music and it seems the Arctic Monkeys are starting to implement this sound more and more into their music. This is not at all a problem in my mind.
If the Arctic Monkeys want to take their sound in a completely different direction, it is totally their call. Arctic Monkey superfans around the world have absolutely no justification in getting upset about this. Alex Turner and the rest of the band don't owe anyone any damn thing and they can change their sound as they please.
Unfortunately, I can't help but get the sense that this isn't the reason that the Arctic Monkeys are changing their sound and their overall image. I think that they are dumbing down their sound and songwriting to reach a much more marketable target audience of music fans who don't like to think too hard about the music they listen to. Arctic Monkeys are currently the band for pop-music fans who want to listen to them just because they are a "rock" band. It's almost as if they are doing it out of a sense of irony.
However, Arctic Monkeys are happy to supply these fans with the easily accessible material. For example, songs like "One For the Road" and "Arabella" are incredibly simplistic and quite lazy in a melodic sense. There is no detail in any of the instrumental parts. The guitar riffs and chord progressions are weak, the bass lines are laid down quite easily, and the energetic drum parts heard on tracks like "Brianstorm" and "The View from the Afternoon" are nowhere to be found on AM.
It's perplexing to me that any musical group would ever compromise their creative freedom simply to become a bigger band. It seems counter-productive in every sense of the way. However, Arctic Monkeys couldn't really part with their old roots as they felt the need to put on the track "R U Mine?". This track is the fastest and most upbeat track on AM for sure but it isn't as energetic as previous Arctic Monkeys albums. I for one loved this track. The drum fills are excellent and the riff is pretty bad-ass. But to me this sounded like a pretty false-hearted attempt to satisfy the fans who want the old Arctic Monkey sound back. If this is was ever to be the case I would have two things to say. First, it'll take a lot more than 1 song to please some of these bitching fans, and two indecisiveness comes out as weak in the context of a full album.
Weak. That seemed like the word to describe this whole album. It isn't really cool, smooth, sauve or whatever the hell kind of vibe Arctic Monkeys were going for here. It's deliberate, emotionless and very spotty. My expectations weren't too high for this album but nevertheless, I would expect more from the Arctic Monkeys. They didn't deliver very much other than a glorified middle of the pack record with a few memorable spots. I'm honestly not sure whether or not I will be coming back to this one.