Sometimes whenever you hear a band at first you really aren’t super impressed. That’s the beginning of my story involving the Arctic Monkeys. For years i resisted. Looking back I can’t even say for sure what I didn’t like about the Sheffield quintet. All my friends loved them, and insisted I was crazy. To the point though, they ultimately were correct. In regards to the talent and calm cool poised by the Monkeys, I was wrong. This isn’t an overview of their time as a band, but rather a piece about how I could have been so wrong and how one freezing night in November of last year changed my tune.
For years they sucked in my opinion. I didn’t get the look of the band, and quite frankly, felt as though Turner was trying too hard to look cool and careless. This was my first mistake. He has the ability to glide about inner circles of musicians who are the epitome of cool. Queens of the Stone Age visionary Joshua Homme is a frequent collaborator and producer, starting with 2008’s “Humbug,” and they even appeared on the wonderfully informative “Sonic Highways” on HBO, discussing the legendary Rancho de Luna in the California desert with Dave Grohl.
Quite simply they ooze a suaveness and cool demeanor that isn’t seen much these days in rock n roll. Sharply dressed on that November night, they railed through 90 minutes of pure British Invasion rock, not taking any prisoners during a set that was highlighted by “R U Mine” and punctuated by the fact that even though it was 10 P.M. Alex turner was sporting sunglasses. Normally and frequently I'd laugh at someone who did that, but for some reason it worked for this particular Brit, and it made their status as one of the coolest bands around even easier to cement.
Plenty of the appeal of the band has to do with the instrumentation and the gradual way they weave in and out of upbeat moments and marry them with low fi murmurings and mid tempo jams, but for me much of the satisfaction in listening to this band is drawn from Turner’s majestic and calculated lyrics. The word play is phenomenal, and on tracks like “Crying Lightning,” he’s proving why he’s one of the better lyricists in the rock n roll game. One of my favorite lines in any song is easily the section of “Lightning” where Turner draws out the line “But your profile could not hide, The fact you knew I was approaching your throne. With folded arms you occupied the bench like toothache, stood and puffed your chest out like you'd never lost a war.” For me there’s no lyrics I’ve heard in the last few years that project a band as being mythological and fantastic that it’s hard to turn away.
Even going back to the first album, you can see they have a clear identity in regards to what type of band they want to be. That’s a pro and a con for some bands,and I think it certainly for them too. A pro in a way that they never abandoned their natural instincts when it comes to following their dreams and ideals, but also can be a con because even though they never strayed from those ideals, the music they’re making now has more pop and force to it, and some fans may not dig their A.M. in such a way. I on the other hand, think the progression is great. Take a song like “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair.” This song has such weight and dimension to it that it’s impossible not to get into it’s midnight rustic feeling, but this song wouldn’t have been possible even years earlier. Quite simply they hadn’t grown that much, but gradually they were becoming a band that was not only extremely talented but also was proving just how much they were getting better with every record. Each album has excelled at being better overall than the first, and while many still are obsessed with the raucous debut, even their newest record “A.M.” has people talking about the potency of the band.
In summation, the Arctic Monkeys have continually risen to the occasion, which is saying a lot considering how fast they took off. You might consider them in a similar way to how you look at Breaking Bad.” Yes the tv show. It starts fairly quickly and keeps building momentum throughout the entire length of the show. That’s what Alex Turner and his Arctic Monkeys have done for the last decade, and it the brilliant output of the first five albums is any indication, they may just keep getting better and better.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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