mon 22/04/2024

Albums of the Year 2022: Arctic Monkeys - The Car | reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year 2022: Arctic Monkeys - The Car

Albums of the Year 2022: Arctic Monkeys - The Car

Back to being brilliant after some serious highs and lows

'The Car': definitely worth the ride

I hate Alex Turner. Ever since he and his spotty crew upended my rather dull existence in 2005 (courtesy of not entirely legal streaming services) I have been in his thrall. But everyone loved Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not and most people moved on. 

But bear with me, reader. In my defence, I had reached rock bottom a few years before, ending up being hospitalised. And kind of given up on music (I was “too old”, I told myself). But I turned a corner, got out and eventually found a great job working with fabulous people. Then, shortly after I’d discovered “The Ritz to the Rubble” and “Fake Tales” online, I met my future husband. In fact, almost 17 years ago to this very day. Our courtship was very much sound-tracked by “A Certain Romance” and we worshipped heartily at gigs all over the shop (me more than him, to be fair). It was the very, very best of times. Favourite Worst Nightmare simply solidified my admiration for the idiotically named northerners. There was so much to look forward to. 

And then everything went tits up. The inevitable rubbing of shoulders with the London it-crowd, more time spent in America, and hardly any in Sheffield had already burst the "relatability bubble" of which Turner sings on The Car (yes, I’m finally almost getting to the point). Humbug had Josh Homme’s hands all over it and, as we have recently discovered, that isn’t a good thing. Suck it and See was even worse. Of course, I, like many others wanted more of the old Northern wit, the dialect and derision. While Mr Turner and pals seemed intent on working through every cliché in the book (“Let's make some music, make some money/Find some models for wives”, as MGMT contemporaneously put it). It was so deeply, achingly disappointing. I felt personally let down and the scales (temporarily) fell from my eyes.

But the band, too, turned a corner and although the new be-quiffed version of AM-era Arctic Monkeys was preposterous, it kind of made sense. And, once again, there were the anthemic belters we’d dared to expect. Perhaps they’d realised they might get trapped in their own ridiculous rock‘n’roll cliche when creating Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino. Nobody saw that one coming and it gave us several masterpieces. And yet, still more absolute howlers (“She Looks Like Fun” makes my skin crawl). 

And now we have The Car. I think I’ve finally accepted that nothing will bring back that life-changing excitement, that feeling of everything being totally in sync to the point that even the language transports me back north to happy Mancunian times. So nowadays, I expect to be dismayed by Alex Turner’s latest offerings. Perhaps I’m overly critical but that’s because the love ran so very deep. Thankfully, The Car is a good album (albeit with a weedy title track). It’s lush with strings, awash with melancholy. And there are the requisite number of unforgettable, unmissable songs ("Mirrorball", "Body Paint", "Mr Schwartz", "I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am"). It’s clever without being overly arch. Definitely not disappointing (sighs with relief).

I don’t think it will turn anyone’s life upside down, though. But it deserves its place on this list and it’s heartening to see a band now in its 20th year still striving for something different. It’s “whatever people say I”ll do, that's what I won’t” writ large. Which is why I can’t really hate Alex Turner. (And this has nothing whatsoever to do with him being “easy on the eye”.)

 Watch the video for "Body Paint" 

It’s lush with strings, awash with melancholy

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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