Album Review: AM – The Arctic Monkeys

After their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, became the fastest selling debut album in UK history, the Arctic Monkeys quickly began making history. Classified as indie rock, the group’s sound is a throwback to iconic bands such as the Beatles and Nirvana. Even their newer music has the retro feel to it, making the group a modern classic – and AM, the band’s most recent album, is no exception.

The album cover.
The album cover.

The title track to AM, Do I Wanna Know?, was nominated for a Grammy Award (Best Rock Performance) in 2014. It’s been used in many popular commercials, and is recognizable by the first few chords. Alex Turner, the lead vocalist, has a unique voice to match the band’s sound, and their style of music has been compared to that of the Strokes. R U Mine?, the second track, has more prominent drums than the first, but keeps the same sound quality that draws people to rock music. The backing vocals and harmonies are impressive, to say the least, and complement Turner’s voice nicely. One For The Road opens with those harmonies, and has a more echoey sound to start, before going into a slightly slower song. The sound could be described as more grunge than the first two. The third track ends with an abrupt cutoff, before gong into Arabella, another well-known track. The vocals are quick but smooth, and the melody is complicated and put together well. I Want It All starts with a slightly harsher quality to the guitar riffs, and impressively high vocals. With a prominent guitar part, the fourth track features less main vocals than the rest, and more backing vocals for the majority of the song. The sound slowly fades out in that classic rock style (oh, come on, we’ve all heard it), and No. 1 Party Anthem starts with a count-in by Turner. No. 1 Party Anthem has more of a smooth jazz vibe to it than post-punk revival, and is slower than any of its counterparts have been. Mad Sounds, the seventh track, starts with isolated guitar before adding in vocals and a quiet drumbeat. Mad Sounds is a mixture of the indie rock theme of most of the album and the jazz vibe of No. 1 Party Anthem, making it a unique addition to AM. Fireside, the next track, has quicker instrumental, but the liquid sound of Turner’s vocals. With the cool group percussion, it’s not hard to imagine that this song was composed by the fireside. Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? is another popular song from the album, and the chorus has a strange, quick feel to it. I Wanna Be Yours is the final track, and just a few seconds in, you can almost sense the finality of it. With strange lyrics announcing “I wanna be a vacuum cleaner”, this one is slower and deeper.

The Arctic Monkeys.
The Arctic Monkeys.

While there are many indie rock bands today, the Arctic Monkeys have a classic sound that contrasts the newer feel of other bands or artists. The Arctic Monkeys are one of the only modern groups to pull off the retro feel of their music while still sounding modern enough to connect with multiple generations, and we couldn’t be more impressed. This album certainly does have some Mad Sounds. (Get it?)


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