The Ear-drummers Guide to Arctic Monkeys – AM

OK, Cappuccino lovers the next recommended listening for you is Arctic Monkeys’ deliciously sensual, erotic, sweaty, 2013 offering, AM. As the title suggests, this album is for the ‘night owls’ among you, those who have their Cappuccino taste-buds satisfied at way beyond reasonable times, perhaps with something stronger, too. It’s night-time music, it’s primal, it’s fantastic.

The album cover, a black background adorned with sound waves culminating in a simplistic ‘AM’ (Arctic Monkey’s / morning time – you see what they did, yeah?) configuration in the middle. Simplistic, yet superbly clever.

The album opens with ‘Do I Wanna know’. A song, that everyone who has lusted for a certain person will acknowledge. It’s a song oozing lustful feelings, exemplified through the verse (and yes, he does need to write it word for word – it’s THAT good!): ‘I dreamt about you nearly every-night this week, how many secrets do you keep? ‘Cause there’s this tune I found that makes me think of you somehow, and I play on repeat …until I fall asleep, spilling drinks on my settee’ – it’s magical when an artist’s lyrics hit the preverbal nail like this. ‘Simmer down and pucker up’: this is only the beginning!

R U Mine? Another question. Interrogation? Is Alex Turner asking us? (he does at the live shows!!!) Drum roll followed by booming introduction: ‘I’m a puppet on string…’ A perfect description of being a slave to desire and ‘Great escape’ – the hard-ass brother to the opening track.

‘One For The Road’ describes a late night encounter, an exciting one, a sultry one, an prolonged one….’I thought it was dark outside, I thought it was dark outside’. James Ford’s production on this track (as with whole album) is superb, Nick O’Malley’s bass overshadows / influences every other instrument, complemented by the Matt Helder’s drums. Midway through we are treated to an almost cartoon-esque lead guitar spelling mystery, sneaking up a staircase- the music takes you there, in fact ‘you’ve been here before…’

‘Arabella’ – A tip of the hat to Led Zepplin. The Ear-drummer is not a Led Zepplin aficionado, but he has heard the ‘Rock Gods’ enough to be reminded of them. Arabella is a goddess: she wears ‘intersellagator skinboots, a helter skelter around her little finger and she has a Barbarella silver swimsuit’ which encourages escapism at any time during the day. Cappuccina drinkers can be day-dreamers, can’t they?

The Arctics ratchet up the level of creativity and broaden their scope into a tune straight from the Glam-Rock era. ‘I Want It All’ is a rigmarole with pace, melody, groove and muffled drums leaving us star-dazed, feeling ‘2000 light-years from home’. Not yet half-way through and the lyrical acrobatics of Turner and Co. is startling. Is there a better contemporary lyricist? Answers in the comment section below please.

‘No.1 Party Anthem’ slows everything down. The pragmatist is a ‘lost’ party animal, the scene: somewhere dark desires are realised, the ‘House of Fun’. This track brings elegance to a place removed from spirit. The music has 80’s soul.

‘Mad Sounds’, is the one track on the record which is filler material. It’s essentially a light hearted poke thin on substance. It’s joyful, yet no message, no intrigue. It lifts the mood after No. 1 Party Anthem, certainly. You can’t make a perfect album anyway.

‘Fireside’ back in the car (the music takes you there) and driving down dark country roads, on an uncertain journey. There’s also the sense of loss, the loss experienced ‘of the place down memory lane, ‘it looks the same, but something about it has changed’. Jamie Cook’s guitar solo is exceptional in its delivery (in every meaning of the word).

‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ We’ve all been there. Yes, we have. Even Miley Cyrus does this track justice, credit where credit is due.

‘Snap Out of It’ Late 70’s – early 80’s Elton John. Really. It’s fantastic. Uplifting drums, cockney (Chas and Dave, anyone?) piano. A pleasure. Try not to sing it having listened to the first chorus. Go on, double dare you. You’ll be hooked.

‘Knee Socks’ The hazy morning / afternoon after the night before. The day ahead. Last night’s desire’s still lingering. The successful quest. The cure for ‘January blues’. Vocals receive no little help from the Queens of the Stone Age, Josh Homme on the fade out section.

‘I Wanna Be Yours’ This slows down and ultimately closes the album under an 80’s disco ball. Sultry guitar. Soft percussion throughout. Music provided by the Arctics, the lyrics: a poem by John Cooper Clarke. Never has ‘I wanna be your vacuum cleaner’ sounded so romantic…..’breathing in your dust’.

Summarising, this is a magnificent memoir of the pleasurable days of lust, desire and loss. It’s the extent of creativity, lyrical agility, musical mastery which makes this record an essential listen for cappuccino lovers everywhere. It shares your positivity, optimism mixed with your scepticism and energy. Give it a listen. Alone, with the shades pulled down.

Album Rating: 9 / 10
Stand Out Track: Snap Out of It