Arctic Monkeys – AM
More than ever, bands talk up new releases like commission-hungry salesmen but Matt Helders’ contention that the Arctics' fifth is “the album we’ve always been waiting to make” holds water. It’s the drummer’s playing – choppy, industrious, a synthetic-sounding snare underpinning a new-found groove – that defines AM as much as the snaking riffs and Alex Turner’s wordplay.
Gloriously over-cooked vocal arrangements – Turner louche and in your face, bolstered by Helders and bassist Nick O’Malley’s high notes – pitch soul aside swagger. 'I wanna be your Ford Cortina,' Turner purrs on I Wanna Be Yours but AM is commendably low on easy signpost references.
No 1 Party in Heaven ('Call off the search for your souls') is more typical of the brooding tone. The gradual move from spit-and-sawdust indie pop to a broader palette – a fuller sound – is a smart one. A compelling argument for never sitting still, it's largely AM's playfulness that marks it as – whisper it – the Arctic Monkeys' best to date. [Gary Kaill]