ARCTIC MONKEYS

arctic monkeysARCTIC MONKEYS – ‘AM’
Since their ’06 debut and its ’07 follow up, these hugely popular Steel City kids seem to have been searching to re-establish their identity.  Self style included, such was the finite nature of their early colloquialisms, subsequent recordings simply had to find a new direction to maintain momentum and retain interest.  But with the sluggish Humbug and last years passable Suck It And See, they’ve tried and tested without leaving a lasting impression. On this their 5th attempt at contemporary post-punk, they’ve very much continued where they left off – losing the colourful dialects and vernacular in favour of a laid back smoother swing, AM still feels a long way from a place they can call home.  Gone are the quirky guitar pickings and driving riffs, Turner’s vocal continually unchanged, cuts like ‘Do I Wanna Know’ and ‘R U Mine’ play out like a spaghetti western stand off; the latter encouragingly veering back towards their early rock work outs.  But it’s all too familiar, all too safe, accepting identical form and structure – take ‘One For The Road’ and ‘Arabella’, both so exact and indistinguishable they could be conjoined.  At least ‘I Want It All’ and in particular ‘Fireside’ try on new ideas for size and come up trumps, before ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ rekindles the story telling humour of Whatever People Say I Am and Favourite Worst Nightmare, albeit subtly so.  In fact there’s a distinct improvement as the album progresses into its second half, but there’ still a sense of unfulfilled potential; as a whole they’re not particularly pushing their envelopes or raising their game beyond what’s already well known.  One day these boys will blow our balls off with a rock album full of ideas and shimmering with poise and swagger, such is their capability.  But until then, AM will sit next to its siblings on a shelf marked ‘unexceptional’.  (6)
STEVE FLETCHER

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