The first time I listened to AM I panicked. I’d heard some seriously good things about this album, 10/10 reviews all over the shop. So naturally I questioned my sanity when I couldn’t help but think these appraisals were perhaps a bit hasty. I loved some tracks no doubt, but there are some I just couldn’t hand on heart say I loved.
Arabella I found uninspiring, I Want It All I thought, dare I say it, offered nothing to the album. Hearing others singing Arctic Monkey’s praises at the top of their lungs scared me slightly, what’s my editor going to say when I tell him I’m not sure I really like it?
One last try I thought. I went through my routine of listening to a new album, lights off, headphones on and volume up. Shortly afterwards my arms were covered in goosebumps, I had wee trickling down my leg and was holding back tears. Sweet Jesus of Nazareth, this album is absolutely incredible. What was I thinking? God knows, but suddenly I couldn’t get enough of this masterpiece.
It all starts with Do I Wanna Know?, a song I doubt even Stephen Hawking can’t help but foot-stomp to. Every time I listen to it the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It’s the perfect song to start the album with. It introduces you to the tone of the album, setting you up and prepares your ears for a rather delightful experience. The lyrics are encapsulating, you hang on to Turner’s word with wonder and intrigue. They’re personal, they’re straight to the point and you’ll be joining in with the falsetto back up-vocals before you know it.
It’s refreshing to hear him talk about his feelings, to remind us that the more abstract and cryptic lyrics of previous albums are not his only mode of writing. Here is Alex Turner telling you about him missing his ex, you’re sucked straight in. It’s so mind-blowing that once R U Mine? starts you’re almost still listening to it, but the clever juxtaposition of these two tracks snaps you out of slow-and-steady foot-stomping mode to frenetic air drums mode. The transition and change in tempo between these two tracks brings out the energy you didn’t realise you had. And seeing as it was released as a single before the album was released, you’re screaming your head off along with Turner from start to finish.
Next comes along One For The Road, which contains perhaps the catchiest chorus in the history of music. It’s one of those that you’re almost not listening to the verse because you just want to hear it again; but of course Arctic Monkeys don’t write mediocre verses or bridges, so in-between the rap-rock chorus you’re treated to a falsetto-layered verse, which makes Turner’s natural register in the chorus sound even better. The verse vocals are caressed by a simplistic spindly guitar riff which eventually transforms into an absolute cracker of a solo, giving the track that extra dimension and break-up that it needs to meet that absurdly high level of quality needed to get on an Arctic Monkeys album.