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Arctic Monkeys

by David King on September 18, 2013

AM

 

Welcome to Arctic Monkeys’ The Chronic. Perhaps the last thing you would expect from an early Internet buzz band like the Monkeys, whose pedigree was raucous garage rock and songs about sordid sexual hookups, would be a chilled-out, groove-heavy album that hangs sticky in the air like Dr. Dre’s 1992 gangster-rap classic. But that is exactly what we get with AM. With only one listen, the group’s sound evolution becomes a bit more understandable.

Opener “Do I Wanna Know” has the blues thump of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” and singer-guitarist Alex Turner turns on a soulful moan that conveys the torture of being uncertain of where exactly his lover might be and whether she loves him anymore. The following “R U Mine” and “Arabella” creep along like something off of Dre’s masterpiece until the Black Sabbath-style riffs drop heavy and thick like a puff of kind bud. There are hints of the ’70s glam-blues mashup common to the Black Keys’ Brothers, but Turner has an edge over the Keys when it comes to sleazy riffs and breakup tunes. Turner has a doctorate in guitar licks and sleaze thanks to a few years of study under Queens of the Stone Age’s bar-brawling lady-killer Josh Homme. Turner isn’t intimidated by his own kinks no matter how absurd they are. “(That’s magic) in a cheetah print coat/(Just a slip) underneath it I hope/(Asking if) I can have one of those (Organic) cigarettes that she smokes/(Wraps her lips) ’round a Mexican Coke/(Makes you wish) that you were the bottle,” He sings with the help of a backing chorus.

“One For The Road and  “Snap Out of It” feature guitars that plink like Dre’s string samples, beats that creep the same way and, as a whole, feel like modern Motown via Fitz and the Tantrums. This is the poppiest excursion the Monkeys have ever taken, and also their most solid singular statement.