Arctic Monkeys – AM (album) (Domino Records)

arctic monkeys AM

And the winner for Album of the Year is…

Simply put, ‘AM’, the fifth studio album from Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys, is nothing short of astounding.

‘AM’ is essentially a 70’s rock inspired album made up of 12 incredibly solid cuts. There’s the Black Sabbath influenced first “R U Mine?”, the Slade-esque first single “Do I Wanna Know?”, the gorgeous and timeless Elton John influenced “No. 1 Party Anthem”, even some 70’s T-Rex style glam such as “I Want It All”.

However it’s the surprise R&B influence that really steals the show. There may not be a finer pop tune than “One For The Road”, which exemplifies the band’s new influence – just check out this vocal melody in the aforementioned track.  The R&B influence is also prevalent on the charming “Knee Socks”. The best vocal melody is saved for the album’s closing number, “I Wanna Be Yours”, on which you can just imagine rapping throughout the verses with Turner supplying the song’s chorus. In fact,  all in all Alex Turner’s melodies have never been sweeter.

Elsewhere the brilliant current single “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” effortlessly blends Turner’s cheeky lyrics and their most recent trademark groove but with an R&B lilt. “Arabella” is characterized by a riff that’s essentially Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”, which then morphs into a chorus driven by a riff reminiscent of Bad Company’s “I Feel Like Making Love”.

Though ‘AM’ is Turner’s break-up album you wouldn’t know it – it’s never dreary or depressing or melancholic. In fact, herem the band sound positively joyful. As proof of this, listen to the silky smooth “Mad Sounds”, which boasts a 50’s Buddy Holly-like charm throughout the verses before a timeless 70’s-inspired chorus complete with “oooh-la,la’s” emerges. Similarly, “Fireside” even goes so as far to include a vintage “shoo-wop-wop” chorus.

Influences and nods aside, ‘AM’ is unmistakably an Arctic Monkeys record through and through. On one hand we admit that we miss the punky sounds and lyrical storytelling of their seminal debut on the other hand if the band didn’t evolve we’d never have ‘AM’.

‘AM’ is the sound of the band’s natural evolution that first started with 2009’s ‘Humbug’ and it’s also their most accessible, focused and best since their debut. ‘AM’ brings together all the elements that make Arctic Monkeys so damn compelling and simply perfects it all – a showcase in songwriting mastery.

‘AM’ was released on 9 September, 2013 and is available now.

Watch the video for “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” below: