Who knew it was possible to hear in mono-chrome? Arctic Monkeys’ 5th studio album is a wickedly seductive record, draped in black leather and wielding a switch-blade. Alex Turner and co. had spent years shapeshifting from pointed indie, to sun-stroked desert rock to whimsical psychedelic pop. It wasn’t until AM that they created a sound so assured and so spellbinding.
The thick grooves underpin the album. Unfaltering drumbeats and dark basslines dripping with fuzz leave you with a sense of dread and paranoia. That chest rattling dread associated with the likes of Black Sabbath. The haunted atmosphere is compounded by Jamie Cook’s guitar, flexing its muscles over the hip swaying rhythm. Even through the familiar Motown swing of Snap Out of It, the bubbling G-Funk of Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High or the Velvet Underground melodies on Mad Sounds, you feel violated.
Turner’s sinister overtones are palpable. His voice is demonically possessed. On songs like R U Mine?, One For The Road and I Wanna Be Yours he is joined by a chorus of fellow doomed souls. His fresh-faced cheek is dead. He retains his humour but the lines linger for longer, your hair stands up straighter and just like Turner, you can’t help yourself crawling back.
AM is darker, sexier and better than anything Arctic Monkeys have done before or since. Play it after midnight. Turn off the lights. Watch your back.