Arctic Monkeys have returned with their new album The car, here are our thoughts.
Date published: 21st Oct 2022
In 2018 Arctic Monkeys released Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, an album that shattered any preconceptions that you may have had of the Yorkshire rockers. Some fans were able to fully embrace this new era of musicianship from a band who were determined to grow and some fell to their knees at the sight of Alex Turner with a piano rather than a guitar.
It was a key signifier that the band had grown out of the sound that made them popular during their adolescence and saw them moving on to more conceptual aesthetics. Their latest album The Car promised a continuation of the band exploring new ground, we thought we'd head into the new album and report back on a track-by-track basis.
There'd Better Be A Mirrorball
An instantly glistening lounge rock tune, it immediately screams sophistication. A sudden wave of percussion amps up the drama before we are guided towards Turner's smooth crooning vocals. Arctic Monkeys worked with a full orchestra on The Car and it has certainly elevated the dramatic proportions of their music. This opener is a delightfully gorgeous listen, the arrangement is perfect.
I Ain't Quite Where I Think I Am
A bit of wah peddle adds a psychedelic dimension to this track. A throwback tune that takes you back in time. Turner has always been a fantastic lyricist and even though he may not be writing about nights out as a teenager, he still has you hooked to every word. The rest of the band feels a lot more involved here as opposed to Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.
Sculptures Of Anything Goes
It feels as if we just entered the captivating hold of a Kubrick film, the deep bass of the percussion goes straight to the core of you. Funnily enough, Turner fits in a beautiful your mum joke that shows he'll never be one to take things too seriously. He also seems to get candid at one point with the line, "puncturing your bubble of relatability with your new sound".
A moment that seems to directly address criticism of their new direction. The wail of the guitar, later on, is jaw-dropping, in using the instrument sparingly its effect is intensified.
Jet Skis On The Moat
We get more lovely wobbly guitar. Turner's vocals seem to be getting better and better with each record as he playfully holds notes with little effort. It's the small intricate parts that make this one feel alive although it is the slowest to get going so far.
"The master of deception and subterfuge", this is easily the most seductive track on the album so far. You can imagine a hip swivel or two from Turner on stage whilst playing this one live. The strings really add a serene element to this song. the way Turner holds the notes in the chorus sounds amazing.
Jamie Cook splits up the track by playing a decisive guitar part. The way the track breaks down towards the end is like the smashing of an expensive sculpture.
Gentle chimes of acoustic guitar run alongside piano keys in an entwining tandem. The drums rumble like a distant storm there's a certain sense of theatre throughout. There's no doubt that the arrangement here is lush and vibrant, the album is fantastically produced.
"I've conjured up wonderful things", we hear as Alex Turner takes us on a tour of a creative mind. It seems to be a semi-self-aware glimpse at the creative process as piano keys drip in the background, the violin swells and the guitar follows suit. It is the perfect album to sit with and soak it all in.
Here's one moment that will remind you of Arctic Monkeys' early work. The guitar here feels distinctively AM and could have been on Knee Socks. Yet here it is surrounded by grandiose strings and subtle drum beats as opposed to whirlwind rock. Yet the band have you hooked here in a whole different way.
"I'd pass for seventeen if I just get a shave and catch some Z's", Turner admits which is probably true.
A focus on gentle guitar playing at the start, it slowly and subtly transforms. Light drumming patters about in the background and bass rumbles quietly in the background as if the band is trying hard not to wake someone.
The strings here oscillate with unwavering confidence. It is a track that feels like a true ending. It may be less thematically concise than Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino but there's still amazing lyricism throughout. Perfect Sense shows off the very best of their new orchestral sound.
In summary, The Car is an album that is going to frustrate some but make others fall completely in love with Arctic Monkeys all over again. Yes, it isn't as conceptually consistent as their last album but yet again Arctic Monkeys have taken strides forward by adding in orchestral sounds and blending them with soft rock. Alex Turner's voice is getting better as he gets older and he continues to push the band into new and exciting directions.
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