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Music Review: Unexpected sounds from Arctic Monkeys on “AM”

Karla Rendon
Assistant Editor

Fans of Arctic Monkeys are in for a surprise as their highly anticipated fifth album, “AM,” steers away from the quirky indie beat sound that skyrocketed the band as one of the post-punk revival heavyweights.

Shifting towards a more serious record, the band has matured with their sound as well as their looks (i.e: frontman Alex Turner going from indie heartthrob to cool jerk greaser).

With 12 songs on the new album, each song sounds thicker than any of their songs from their previous efforts. Jamie Cook’s eccentric guitar riffs has been the band’s most prominent instrument throughout their previous four albums, but it becomes more modest in their fifth attempt.

Cook’s use of a high-pitched guitar, most notable in 2007’s “Fluorescent Adolescent,” has eased in trade of strumming from the higher frets of the guitar to the lower frets.

While the English band is memorable for Turner’s thoughtful and poetic lyrics, he decided to make them straightforward for this album. The band’s most straightforward song is, “I Wanna Be Yours,” a romantic ballad that is upfront with vying to belong to a woman.

Aside from being direct with their lyrics, their wording has also become less of telling a tale and more of being in that “sweaty nightclub, casual love for a night, does she feel the same about me?” sort of scene.

Most of the album’s songs revolve around that type of setting, most obvious in the song, “Do I Wanna Know?” a swanky song with a provocative melody and falsetto voices harmonizing with Turner’s casual voice.

Inspiration for this album may shock fans since Arctic Monkeys have cited unexpected sources as their influence. They named Aaliyah, Outkast and even Black Sabbath as their musical motivations.

One of their biggest inspirations was Dr. Dre, so much so that their ninth song, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” has a familiar beat that Dre fans will recognize.

“It sounds like a Dr. Dre beat,” Turner said in an interview with NME.com, “but we’ve given it an Ike Turner bowl-cut and sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster.”

Another influence was The Strokes, a band that Arctic Monkeys has cited as an influence since their debut album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.”

In the same Dr. Dre-like song, Turner sings, “it’s three in the morning and you’re eating alone,” an ode to The Strokes’ 2006 tune, “Heart in a Cage.”

Although old fans may be taken back by the change in their musical style, the English quartet can gain new fans due to their slight change.

Fans who are fond of Black Keys, The White Stripes or The Raconteurs may be fond of Arctic Monkeys after their fifth hit album.

Selling over 97,000 in its first week, “AM” is currently in battle with Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” for fastest selling album of 2013.

Karla Rendon can be reached at karla.rendon@laverne.edu.

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