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Album of the Year: Arctic Monkeys – AM | reviews, news & interviews

Album of the Year: Arctic Monkeys – AM

Album of the Year: Arctic Monkeys – AM

Alex Turner and co show that there are still new tunes to be played on good old guitars

Morning Glory: The Arctic Monkeys reinvent the rock wheel again

2013  was yet another year when hip hop added a bit of punch to old rockers. Elvis Costello had a crack at his own distinctive version of rap on Wise Up Ghost, while Arctic Monkeys' fifth album successfully fused Alex Turner's recent fondness for Dr Dre with his enduring affection for homegrown turns of phrase and in particular northern words such as "shite".

At its heart though, AM is still very much a rock record. Just as you think every permutation of guitar music has been done and dusted AM comes up with the molten blues of “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” complete with Turner's tales of late night lust and the aforementioned "talking the same shite". The enigmatic singer/lyricist might have remodelled his coiffure on the Beatles' Hamburg quiffs, but the musical mood often evokes middle-period Rolling Stones, when actual experience of America impacted on their innate Englishness. The "ooh la la la" on "Mad Sounds" is positively Jaggeresque.

Reviews of AM on its release in September compared tracks to Black Sabbath. There might be a hint of early Seventies heaviosity, but despite the chance to indulge in a game of spot-the-reference there is ultimately nothing backwards-looking here at all. Turner is a master at drawing on the past to create a sexy new future. On "I Wanna Be Yours" he turns John Cooper Clarke's Salford stanzas into a sultry drawl. On "Arabella" the Sabs-style riffs might be foregrounded but Turner's seductive vocals still dominate.

This was a year when rock bands who previously looked like they might be creatively knackered reminded the world that they could still deliver. Suede revisited old glories with Bloodsports, while Franz Ferdinand bounced back with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. But for thinking bloke's rock Arctic Monkeys win my vote hands down. They've come a long way from being namedropped by Gordon Brown. Never mind AM, Alex Turner for PM. 

Overleaf: Watch the video for "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?"


Turner is a master at drawing on the past to create a sexy new future

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