Today’s blog post is one that I’ve given a fair amount of thought to. I’ve held back and held back and continued to hold back on writing it. Why is that? Well, I’ll tell you why it is; simply put, I don’t think the latest Arctic Monkeys album is up to much. OMG, WTF, you can’t be fan!!! I hear you cry. Not so. I mean, I’ll admit that my first Arctic Monkeys gig- at the Brixton Academy around the release of their first album- was like being at a really cool party, but one where you didn’t know anyone. Like Radiohead, they’ve always been Jo’s band in the way that Tricky and Depeche Mode, though we both love them, belong to me. Nevertheless, over the last few years I have come to love the band and have seen them on each of their album tours, including the special date they played at Shepherds Bush Empire last year.
I can, however, wait no longer.
I was looking forward to the new album- despite Jo listening to a stream of it and giving me a big, Larry David style “meh” when I asked her what she thought of it. The Record Store Day purchase, Don’t Sit Down Cause I Moved Your Chair hinted at a continuation of the Humbug style that I personally loved- loud and heavy(ish). And then we saw them on Jools Holland- Reckless Serenade and another forgettable tune left me wondering.
Interestingly, the intro to the album symbolises my personal problem with it in that the opening guitar promises something dark and mysterious and then gives way to… pretty pop songs, I guess you’d call them. Nothing wrong with that, but not what I want from the Arctics.
In fairness, I do like the opening track, She’s Thunderstorms, but it’s no Brianstorm, it’s not even My Propellor. Black Treacle is alright, Brick By Brick isn’t and the Hellcat Spangled Shalalalalalalalalalalalalala is a much better title than it is a song. Don’t Sit Down… picks up the pace, Library Pictures aims to maintain it, although I’m not sure about Turner’s “Ip-dip-dogshit rock n’ roll” line. All My Own Stunts- meh. Reckless Serenade is better than it appeared on Jools Holland and I think Piledriver Waltz is another fine showcase for Alex Turner’s lyrical turns of phrase. If I’m gonna sit here and tell you why I don’t like this album, I think it’s only fair to say that I give Alex Turner the respect he’s due for lyrics that will nearly always make you wish you could write them, the series of lines that includes “Wear your shell suit on bonfire night” being a classic case in point.
By the time I have got to Love Is A Laserquest and Suck It And See, every time I have listened to this album, I’m looking at the tracklisting to see how long is left. I am, in short, bored. Not a usual sign when listening to an album by a band I do have a genuine affection for. Happily, the album ends on a high with the fantastic That’s Where You’re Wrong. I can already imagine how good that will sound when they hit the O2 in October. And I think that track has a dynamism, a certain Springsteen like quality, that is sadly lacking throughout the rest of the album. If this album points the way to the future for the Sheffield quartet, then I hope they take this brilliant final track as a reference point.
Now, where’s my copy of Humbug?