Arctic Monkeys return with defining new album

Sam Hays

If you don’t know what the Arctic Monkeys sound like, that’s because they never did either. 

The Sheffield, England, four-piece’s newest addition to the world of rock ‘n’ roll is perhaps the band’s most confident album to date. AM, the fifth studio album from the Arctic Monkeys, is a wild, sexually charged, inventive ride with energetic songs and untucked candor that holds the listener’s attention from start to finish. 

The Arctic Monkeys’ music has always jumped between sub-genres of rock, never sure of which rock ‘n’ roll mold they want to fit. Once AM starts blasting through speakers, though, listeners hear a band completely devoid of doubt, beaming with confidence and swagger. AM is the most cohesive work from the band yet, and the new album could bring back fans the Arctic Monkeys lost after 2011’s Suck It and See.

The wide range of influences in this album make the tracks undeniably entertaining and exciting to explore. Recorded with help from Josh Homme, Queens of the Stone Age front man, this album was destined to exude raw power. The British lads have cleaned up their act and demand respect for their newfound maturity. The album’s bold opener, “Do I Wanna Know?” will have listeners stomping their feet and searching for a pair of dark-shaded glasses to match the album’s commanding attitude from the beginning.  

Some of the album’s songs, such as the second track “R U Mine?,” feel minimal yet incredibly powerful, a la The Black Keys, while other tracks revolve around surging, Zeppelin-esque riffs that blow you away with sheer muscle. Falsetto-driven background vocals draw comparisons to Justin Timberlake’s singing style, and classic rock influences shine through when pipe organs set the tone or when Black Sabbath-style guitar chords crash through the speakers. With this powerful arsenal of influences, the Arctic Monkeys may have finally discovered exactly who they are.   

Lyrically, front man Alex Turner couldn’t be more direct. He’s frustrated, he’s drugged-out and he’s lusting for more. His candid writing style allows his lyrics to be sung honestly and vigorously, perfectly complementing the strong guitar-driven songs on AM.

For all intents and purposes, AM is a fun album. Even if you don’t buy into this new Arctic Monkeys brand, even if you’re a loyalist who clings to the band that took the indie music scene by storm back in 2006, there is no denying that the 41 minutes you spend listening to this album will be a blast. Thump your foot, thrash around, headbang until your head is numb — the Arctic Monkeys are back, and the raw energy they have is infectious.