Arctic Monkeys "AM" reviewed by Matt Dwyer for Northern Transmissions. "Am" comes out September 10th on Domino Records.

Artist: Arctic Monkeys
Album: AM
Rating: 4.5
Label: Domino

When recently describing the new Arctic Monkeys album, AM, Alex Turner said, “It’s a Dr. Dre beat, but we’ve given it an Ike Turner bowl-cut and sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster.” Oh man, that sounds awesome. I wanna hear that. Too bad it doesn’t happen on this album. There are some decent beats and guitar riffs but other than a couple of songs, it’s a gigantic miss.

It’s too bad because this album starts off strongly. I was quickly grabbed by the opening beat and bluesy tone of “Do I Really Wanna Know?” It was gritty, dark, a little funky and, dare I say, sexy. The second track, “R U Mine”, kicked out a guitar riff that careened out of my speakers and into my eardrums. This album was headed in the right direction; two great opening tunes with impeccable production by James Ford and Ross Orton. It even had Josh Homme doing a little guest appearance.

Sadly, the right direction turned south with what I assume is the Dr. Dre beat-influenced, “One For The Road”. This song may become one of the most skipped songs in the history of albums. It’s a cringe-worthy attempt at some weird soulful-funk-Justin-Timberlake-dance-club-God-knows-what. Just one second of the opening vocals and I was deeply concerned for this album.

The next few songs justified my concern. “Arabella” (Another Dr. Dre-influenced failure.) “I Want It All” and “No. 1 Party Anthem” fail to grab the listener and seem like white rice when you want the steak that was the opening two songs. “Mad Sounds” is a nice Velvet Underground change in tone, but it doesn’t fit with the rest of the sound on AM. The Arctic Monkeys almost regain footing with “Fireside” and “Kneesocks”, but not enough to make up for the other anemic songs.

The entire album was summed up for me in the first lyric of the final track, “I Wanna Be.” Turner, in a hushed tone, sings “I wanna be your vacuum cleaner, breathin’ in your dust.” Upon hearing this I thought, this is a band trying too hard. I will give the Arctic Monkeys credit for perhaps striving to explore new territory with the psuedo-Dr. Dre influence, but it comes off as embarrassing. Perhaps next time they may want to lean more on the Ike Turner and a lot less on the Dr. Dre.

Matt Dwyer


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