Lark Pinney, Editor in Chief
Lace up those Dr. Martens and dig out your American Apparel, because Arctic Monkeys are back. The English alternative rock band best known for their hit “Do I Wanna Know?” released their seventh studio album this October, titled “The Car.” This album follows 2018’s “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino,” a piano-heavy concept album about a hotel and casino in space. “The Car” brings the band back down to earth, but not all the way to the fast-based, catchy world that was 2013’s “AM.”
“The Car’s” first single and opening track “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball” with the laid-back, loungy feel of many songs from “Tranquility Base,” still feels light and welcomes us into the album. The first line, “Don’t get emotional, that ain’t like you / Yesterday’s still leaking through the roof / That’s nothing new / I know I promised this is what I wouldn’t do,” feels as though lead singer Alex Turner is already asking fans for forgiveness for experimenting with new sounds. The band has expressed frustration with fans’ expectations for them to keep producing music like their earlier albums, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” and “AM,” as the band wants to continue to evolve their sound and experiment. This thread is present throughout the whole album, and makes it feel like a confessional at times.
The next song, “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am” is a fun change of pace, with funky guitar effects and a rich string section. The presence of orchestral strings on the majority of the album’s songs makes it feel cinematic and much more grown-up than the driving sound of “AM.” The following song, “Sculptures of Anything Goes,” was immediately my favorite on the album. It has a spooky, almost haunting sound that reminds me of their third album, “Humbug.” It is not immediately clear what Turner is talking about, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about lines like “Is that vague sense of longing kinda tryna cause a scene?” Once again, Turner brings up their new artistic direction, asking what we think of this “horrible new sound.” The fourth song, “Jet Skis On The Moat” brings the funky guitar back and is an easy listen.
The second half of the album starts with the single “Body Paint” which is definitely the most fun song on the record. The opening is super catchy and captures some of the big swagger from “AM.” The next songs, “The Car” and “Big Ideas,” continue the lounge-like pace of the album and feature large orchestral sections. “Hello You” is more upbeat and showcases Turner’s falsetto and intricate writing style. “Mr Schwartz” is another fan favorite, with stripped-back guitar and a more emotional feel. “Perfect Sense” closes the album well, summing up the sound and asking fans to stay with the band, even as their “invincible streak turns onto the final straight.”
Arctic Monkeys are all grown up. This album is definitely a departure from their earlier work, but to me still feels completely like an Arctic Monkeys record. Don’t go into it looking for songs like “R U Mine?” but you might find yourself grooving along.
(P.S. Alex Turner if you’re reading this, please hit me up)