The Arctic Monkeys Rule ... That Is All
Cryptozoologists think that some animals, widely considered to be mythological in nature, live and breathe and roam the earth just like you and me.
These pseudo-scientists scour the natural world for indisputable proof that Bigfoot, dinosaurs and lake monsters not only exist, but thrive.
Yeah, it’s ridiculous, yet their optimism is quite charming.
By its name, the Arctic Monkeys sound like cryptids on par with the Appalachian Black Panther and Jersey Devil. The Arctic Monkeys are, in fact, a band, specifically a wildly popular band (think U2 or Radiohead levels of fanfare) on the European side of the Atlantic with a string of No. 1 albums and sold out stadium tours. You know, the stuff of rock lore.
Stateside however, it’s been a different story. This quartet’s been nothing more than a niche indie band with rumored greatness and a name too silly to be believed.
Until very recently, the Arctic Monkeys only left us Yanks with anecdotal evidence regarding its overall mastery. I’d tell anyone who would listen about my early sightings of the group, but when asked for hard proof of its excellence I could only present unconvincing blurry cellphone footage.
But this perception of a band on the fringe is changing quickly with its latest album, “AM,” and the unlikely crossover hit single “Do I Wanna Know?”
From appearing on Bacardi Rum ads to charting on a number of “Best Of 2013” lists, “AM” has proven to be the gateway to America that has eluded the band for years. That’s saying something, too.
Arctic Monkeys’ 2006 debut album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not,” is the fastest selling debut British album of all time and a stone cold modern classic. The next three albums weren’t too shabby, either.
Making the transition from indie famous to mainstream famous is all due to one 3-minute, 24-second track, the decidedly riff-heavy monster “R U Mine.” With falsetto harmonies and pure white-boy funk, that tune is at this point the best song the band has ever written (at this point).
While “Do I Wanna Know?” gets the radio spins, “R U Mine” is the song that inspired “AM” and set the band’s rise to prominence in motion.
In the single shot, black and white video for “R U Mine,” you see a band consciously remaking its entire image. Prior to “R U Mine,” the band’s music consisted of hook-less rock songs about chip shops and pub scraps. Gone are the shaggy haircuts and track jackets. It’s now tapered haircuts, black motorcycle boots and leather, lots of black leather.
The band’s new sound was much more in line with contemporary R&B and features big, recognizable choruses and sexy smooth grooves.
Since permanently relocating from England to Los Angeles, the influence of car and motorcycle culture is all over the band’s new material. The new album was written with the goal of sounding great while cruising down the palm tree-lined streets of L.A.
“I want (‘AM’) to sound good in the car, the way 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ does,” said Alex Turner, the band’s lead singer and primary songwriter, in an interview with London’s “Guardian” newspaper.
Turner wanted to write songs so good you couldn’t skip them when they came on the radio, a la “In Da Club.”
Admittedly, I am a biased judge of this band, because to me it is perfect. Every album, every song is a gem. “AM,” however, is undeniable proof of a band operating at the highest level of confidence.
If “Do I Wanna Know?” is the gateway, wait until “R U Mine,” “Arabella” or “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” get their claws in you.
The Arctic Monkeys are on the verge of superstardom in the States, something that until recently, I thought truly improbable.
With “AM” the band proves that in the end, good music wills out, and sometimes the ridiculous can indeed become reality.