Five albums in, and British indie-rockers Arctic Monkeys have undoubtedly established themselves as one of the most consistently creative and genre-defining bands of the last decade.
The Sheffield lads burst onto the music scene in 2005 with their debut single, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” and have since become an establishment in British music. Their latest effort, AM, is a commanding, psychedelic synthesis of everything that worked so well on the band’s previous albums, combining the arena-filling dance anthems of Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not with the biting wit of Favorite Worst Nightmare and the melancholy maturity of the back half of Suck It and See.
Although the album fits cohesively into the rest of the band’s catalog, AM takes on a boozier, more confident tone and toys with a seductively sinister sound. On opener “Do I Wanna Know?,” frontman Alex Turner provocatively asks, “Have you no idea that you’re in deep? / I’ve dreamt about you nearly every night this week.” The track’s stomping beat and swaggering guitars demand attention, while the taunting falsettos of Matt Helders and Nick O’Malley on “R U Mine?” have an air of sultry urgency.
The centerpiece of AM is, undoubtedly, Turner’s inspired lyricism. On the hip-hop-infused ode to a cheetah-print-coat-wearing, Mexican Coke-sipping Arabella, Turner sings, “Arabella’s got some interstellagator skin boots / And a helter skelter around her little finger and I ride it endlessly.” On the deceptively named “No. 1 Party Anthem,” Turner continues the lonesome search for his “Cornerstone” mistress, bemoaning, “It’s not like I’m falling in love / I just want you to do me no good.”
Despite Turner’s several side projects and the year-and-a-half-long gap between the release of AM’s first single and the album itself, the Arctic Monkeys show no sign of slowing down. AM is their best album to date, but it’s not the work of a band at their peak. It’s the work of a band on the rise.