Alex Turner and the boys have returned—with a decidedly poppier sound. AM takes a bit of warming up to; it’s hard to reconcile this band with the one that produced 2006’s punk-infused Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, or 2009’s hard rocking Humbug. Alas, part of what has defined the Monkeys over the years is their ever-changing sound, and AM is just another step in that evolution.
Traces of Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme—who produced Humbug—are part of the Monkeys’ new sonic direction. Homme actually appears as a guest vocalist on songs “Knee Socks” and “One for the Road.” As a result, AM has a nice balance of poppy-ness, and dark rock swagger.
Turner seems to have taken another page out of Homme’s book with sexy slow-jam “I Wanna Be Yours,” which is reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age’s “Make It Wit Chu” and features the lyrics “I wanna be your vacuum cleaner.” Go figure.
The Arctic Monkeys have become rather adept at honing that menacing, past-midnight feel that was present on previous album Suck It and See, but it’s best displayed here in tracks “R U Mine?,” “Do I Wanna Know?,” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” Either way, AM is worth a listen just to ponder some of Alex Turner’s stranger lyrics—and ask yourself why so many of the song titles are phrased as questions.