The great greasy riff that opens “Do I Wanna Know?”, the first song on The Arctic Monkey’s fifth album AM, is an announcement that after two albums of fruitless experimentation they are back to the focused no BS type songwriting of the first two brilliant Monkey’s records WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I’M NOT, THAT’S WHAT I AM and FAVOURITE WORST HANGOVER.
That’s not to say Alex Turner and co. didn’t learn anything from the detour of HUMBUG and SUCK IT SEE. The ballads here feel comfortable in a way slower songs on earlier releases didn’t. However, this is also the catchiest music they have made in a good long while.
And the catchiness is the strength of AM. It’s a return to big dumb songs that rock out in an early 70’s glam way. Turner’s lyrics move back from surrealist nonsense towards his understanding of insular social scenes as well as his intricate dissection of relationships. In fact, many of these songs sound like the other end of their debut, an adult’s view of similar scenarios.
This is a great enjoyable record, perhaps the most immediate, fun music I’ve heard this year. One for the Road, I Want It All, Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High are songs from a band in resurgence who’ve discovered what inspired them to make music in the first place. In particular, Alex Turner sounds fully focused here
“I want to be your vacuum cleaner/ Breathing in your dust/ I want to be your Ford Cortina/ I will never rust” is so earnest it makes one wince but this couplet from AM’s final track the majestic I Wanna Be Yours is sung with such conviction that it flows and has power and is sold to the listener maybe that’s what was missing and what the Monkeys’ have found again – conviction.