Album: Arctic Monkeys, AM (Domino)


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The Independent Culture

Titled to invite multiple readings, Arctic Monkeys' fifth album makes their latest evolution seem as natural as morning following night. The confidence leap shown at Glastonbury was clearly no fluke: a sassy self-overhaul, AM issues lubricious R&B come-ons over a self-assured narrative arc with personality and open potential cannily spliced.

Confessional or not, it starts with the Turner who once enjoyed "cuddles in the kitchen" up all night to get lucky in LA. A bluesy soul-searcher, "Do I Wanna Know?" unfurls over moody, flesh-spanked grooves, registering Tom Waits veteran Tchad Blake's input. Diction ever pliable, Turner sprawls details of dirty deeds over processed beats, shadowed by lust-pinched harmonies from drummer Matt Helders, bassist Nick O'Malley and QotSA bruiser Josh Homme. A nod to Barbarella's bathers and a boudoir bass-line make saucy work of "Arabella"; "One for the Road" pitches Aaliyah into a noir night of lust and murky lighting ("The cracks in blackout blinds cast patterns on the ceiling").

The hangover hits on the Pulp-ish "No. 1 Party Anthem", yet the Monkeys' identity proves supple enough to absorb new grooves and nocturnal indulgences. Jamie Cook's Sabbath riffs contrast cockily with the bump'n'grind. Tight, limber rhythms cushion the G-funk comedown of "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?". Turner keeps the vernacular dry ("summat in your teeth"), smartly deploying John Cooper Clarke's words on "I Wanna Be Yours": "I wanna be your Ford Cortina/I will never rust". A new morning-after-the-night-before, AM sees the Monkeys rebuilt to last.