The Arctic Monkeys’ fifth album ‘AM’ has been hailed as the best of their career, and was awarded a full 10/10 in its NME review. Here’s everything you need to know about the record, starting with Alex Turner’s description: “It definitely borrows from the world of OutKast and Aaliyah.”
The album definitely offers something that was previously unexpected. Alex Turner told NME: “It sounds like a Dr Dre beat, but we’ve given it an Ike Turner bowl cut and then we’ve sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster.” The funny thing is he’s actually spot on.
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It’s the longest they’ve ever spent making an album too – they started sessions in August last year and finished putting “the last tambourine on it” just before Glastonbury. They made the whole thing in sunny Los Angeles, where all four members of Arctic Monkeys are now living.
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At the same time, they’ve obviously been listening to 70s LA rock a lot too, with several tracks recalling the glut of British bands like Black Sabbath who called the City Of Angels a home from home back then. Remind you of anyone?
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Alex told NME he thinks you can split the record fifty-fifty between rock and R&B: “There’s a 70s Sabbath-y thing, Captain Beyond, Groundhogs. There is this rock’n’roll side to it. And then there’s that Space Choirboy, slightly R&B tinged, ex-girlfriend music element too.”
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Producer James Ford: “There’s a lot of falsetto, with Alex singing in a really high register that he hasn’t really done before. Obviously Matt and Nick are both great singers as well, so Nick did a lot of really low Outkast-y, octave down vocals, while Matt did a lot of high, R Kelly-type stuff.”
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There’s also ‘I Wanna Be Yours’, which cribs lyrics from the John Cooper Clarke poem of the same name. John told us in this week’s NME that he was honoured by that – even though he hasn’t actually heard the finished song yet.
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“Ain’t it just like you to kiss me and then hit the road? / Leave me listening to the Stones / ‘2000 Light Years From Home'” goes ‘I Want It All’. It features a brilliant Jamie Cook riff, sounds like T-Rex at their glam best and nicks backing vocals from Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’.
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Alex agreed with us that ‘Mad Sounds’ has a Lou Reed influence on it, recalling the likes of ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ and ‘Walk On The Wild Side’: “Yeah, I get that. I actually wanted the whole record to have a bit of a ‘Transformer’ thing about it – like you’d need to have a shower after it.”
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Several other songs are referenced in the lyrics to ‘No.1 Party Anthem’. These include: ‘The Look Of Love’, ‘A Rush Of Blood’ [To The Head] and ‘House Of Fun’. It also contains the killer line: “It’s not like I’m falling in love / I just want you to do me no good / And it looks like you could”.
Alex told NME that lyrically, the album is partly inspired by the notoriously crazy mansion parties that Los Angeles is famous for: “There is definitely a bit of that,” he said, adding: “You’re in that party and it seems like you’re almost in an Escher painting or something, where the stairs keep going around.”
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Alex has been getting into comedy recently, with Louis CK and Chris D’Elia among his favourites. “I’m like his number one fan now,” he says of the latter in this week’s NME, adding, “I’m quite fascinated by that whole thing,” and saying it’s influenced the way he approaches his own writing.
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The band have plans to continue the task of cracking the States. This is partly out of their desire to tour, as Jamie Cook says: “We love touring. We just love playing shows. It’s like, we can do the UK, but it’s a small place – three week and you’re done. And then how many shows are you going to do on an album?”
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