Review #346: AM, Arctic Monkeys

Karla Clifton
3 min readJan 18, 2023

#346: AM, Arctic Monkeys

We’ve been stuck in the Seventies for a while now, so it’s nice to listen to music that was cool when I was sixteen. This album is so current that my boyfriend actually saw this tour, and allegedly witnessed Alex Turner snorting something backstage.

Alex Turner is a cutie patootie who writes excellent songs, that’s undeniable, but he’s also kind of a drip. RS quotes him as saying that the sound they were going for on this album was akin to “the Spiders From Mars covering Aaliyah,” which would be an annoying thing to say even if it was true. Also I’m still salty about that Spin Magazine profile of his other band, the Last Shadow Puppets, where co-frontman Miles Kane propositioned the female journalist.

In any case, I hate being “that guy,” the guy who doesn’t like a band once they blow up, but the truth is that I did go through a BIG Arctic Monkeys phase back when I was a baby punk. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not and Favourite Worst Nightmare are both so guitary and badass, even with the extra British “u.” My boyfriend has to keep reminding me that just because a band is no longer punk, that doesn’t make them bad.

Okay, so I can’t resent the Arctic Monkeys for their success, or for the sonic transformation they underwent between this record and Suck It And See. For one thing, all the hits on this album seem to be questions. “Do I Wanna Know?” is immediately followed by “R U Mine?” (sic), which both boast spooky guitar effects and some genuinely impressive male falsetto. “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” has a piss-taking title, which is always fun, and coupled with the nursery rhyme chorus, you can tell that Alex Turner is finally vibrating on his highest level.

Look, this is a great album. It’s an achievement, even. It’s what elevated them to the public consciousness, it’s what took them out of garage punk and into speculative-sci-fi-indie. But in my adult punk ears, all these sound the same. “I Want It All,” “Mad Sounds,” “Fireside”? Painfully similar. My boyfriend insists that “One For The Road” is underrated, but all I hear is even more falsetto than usual.

I like the songs where they lean into their guitar, particularly on the opening bars of “Arabella” and “Knee Socks.” I also liked “№1 Party Anthem,” mainly because it was the sole ballad. I thought the lyrics to “I Wanna Be Yours” are heinous (I wanna be your vaccuum cleaner? Excuse me?) but the guitar part made me so happy that I’ll forgive it.

I don’t resent the Arctic Monkeys’ success! I’m glad they eventually found it. Besides, we can’t expect bands to make the same kind of music for the rest of their lives. I imagine it would be a lot like listening to the same kind of music for the rest of your life: unfulfilling and limiting.

That said, I don’t have to listen to it. Apologies to Alex Turner.

Least Favorite Song That I Can’t Stop Singing: “Snap Out Of It” sounds like a children’s song, yet I can’t get it out of my head. Curse you, Alex Turner.

Best Insult I’ve Ever Read About Alex Turner: That his accent is akin to “Sean Bean doing a Bill Clinton impression at gun point first thing in the morning.”

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