Welcome to the world’s weirdest ‘love’ album, it’s called ‘AM’ by Arctic Monkeys. However, instead of celebrating love, it’s largely written from a perspective of pursuing love; something which is often far from all senses of the word ‘romantic’.
This is the most realistic portrayal of modern romance to date in all its deadpan realism. Precariously constructed late night texts, awkward conversations fuelled by alcohol, namely set in a dark, sweaty room or a ‘friend of a friend’s house. It’s hardly Romeo and Juliet, right?
But that’s what’s so brilliant. Spoiler alert ladies, but the closest thing you’ll get to being serenaded on a balcony is your bloke having locked himself out after an all-night bender. Turner consistently challenges the idealised notion of love and romance in exactly this way; the animalistic attraction of ‘Arabella’, the ironic anti-ballad that is ‘No 1. Party Anthem’ or the drunkenly motivated ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’. Aren’t these all notions of romance which we’re all much more familiar with? Turner removes all idealisation of modern romance and leaves it lying bare and exposed, unearthing its truest form.
It’s the same reason why so many people related to the songs and lyrics of ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’. Turner wrote exactly what he saw and captured moments which people don’t often acknowledge because they’re so mundane and inconsequential. However, when pointed out, we all instantly relate to them like waking up on a Monday morning. Arguing with your missus, going out on the pull with your mates, getting jip from some jobsworth bouncer. It summed up a generation and people identified with its bleak and non-sugar coated portrayal of reality; skip forward seven years and that’s exactly what we’ve got here with ‘AM’, albeit from a slightly more mature approach.
‘AM’ is the perfect balance of the black and white observation of ‘WPSIATWIN’ and ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’, contrasted with the nonsense poems of ‘Humbug’ and ‘Suck It And See’. One minute, Turner simply wonders if the apple of his eye has departed yet. He then continues to set the scene with literal, mundane references to clubs with “sweat on the walls”, house parties “with the coats all piled high” as well as going “back to yours”. However, the very next moment he’s back to old tricks, describing Arabella’s “Helter Skelter ‘round her little finger” and her “Barbarella silver swimsuit”. Lyrically, ‘AM’ certainly is the last four Arctic Monkeys albums all rolled into one, but musically? It’s a world apart.
It’s dripping with style and sex appeal, yet remains thick with that trademark Turner lyricism which is as poignant and relevant as ever. I’ve no doubt that your initial romance with ‘AM’ will mirror the way romance is depicted on this album; short, sweet and always left wanting more. Fortunately for you, it’s a romance you can relive as many times as you want. Stay tuned tomorrow for the part two where ‘AM’ gets pulled apart, measured and reassembled by ten of our finest #bluecornerstore critics.
Words by Mark Wood.