English rock band Arctic Monkeys continue their journey across genres with their seventh studio album ‘The Car’, released on October 21. Formed in 2002 and made up of vocalist Alex Turner, guitarist Jamie Cook, bassist Nick O’Malley and drummer Matt Helders, the band quickly rose to fame in the UK with their debut album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” (2006), and quickly gained international notoriety with future releases. Arctic Monkeys have been heralded as one of the most iconic bands of the 21st century. The band’s latest album, “The Car”, stands out as an instant classic in the band’s discography with its bold, shifting and melodramatic production.
The group’s impact in pop culture has remained strong since its inception. Their most popular tracks, “Do I Wanna Know?” and “Why do you only call me when you’re stoned?” allowed them to become known for their heavy and dark humor on the guitar. With Turner as the band’s primary songwriter, he became known for his impressive wit and lyrical talent. The leader’s powerful lyricism is still evident, and perhaps at its strongest, in the new album. Still, “The Car” marks a shift in tone – Arctic Monkeys swap brooding guitar for orchestral backing and fully embrace the funk-rock fusion sound that was laid out on their previous album, “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.” of 2018.
The album opens with the first single “It’d Better Be a Mirrorball”, which is the perfect opening track. It automatically sets the album’s lyrical tone, introducing themes of grief and desolation. Simple piano chords complement the soft, mysterious string support and perfectly immerse the listener in the narrative told by the lyrics. Here, Turner is his rawest self. He exposes his insecurities in a moment of introspection and melancholy as he describes a painful breakup, pleading, “So, do you want to walk me to the car? / I’m sure I have a heavy heart / So can we be absolutely sure / There’s a disco ball for me? »
The second track couldn’t be more sonically different than its predecessor. With a jazzy tone and funky guitar riffs, “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am” is an upbeat track with big bold and fresh production, as opposed to the earlier track’s more subdued production, but the lyrics capture still the level of insecurity and paranoia explored throughout the album.
The striking sonic contrast between the first two tracks sets the tone for the rest of the album. Each track captures a different vibe while maintaining the same underlying darkness the band is known for. But unlike their previous musical releases, there is no aggressiveness in this album. Instead, every emotion expressed in “The Car” has a hint of sadness attached to it, whether it’s nostalgia or sheer misery. Anger is replaced by regret; fury is replaced by desire.
In “The Car”, Turner also introduces listeners to her vocal range. While he sings mostly in his low register, he passionately reveals and embraces a haunting falsetto that showcases his vocal talents. Turner’s upper register contributes to the pensive atmosphere that surrounds the album, a subtly powerful introduction to a more emotional side to the band.
The track “Body Paint” is the obvious star of the album, as it encapsulates all that is good about Arctic Monkeys. Elton John-esque piano tune, cinematic orchestral backing and classic electric guitar (an Arctic Monkeys staple) combine to create a soulful track. However, it’s the lyrics that really tie the song together. With the opening lyrics “For a master of deceit and subterfuge / You made yourself a whole bed to lay in”, Turner suspiciously analyzes the subject of the song and wonders if he is being deceived. from his partner. As he repeatedly sings “There’s still a trace of body paint / On your legs, on your arms and on your face”, he himself confirms his intuition, because his partner is “so predictable, [he] to know[s] What [they’re] think.'”
Although the album lacks a cohesive sound, it works better without it. Each track is unique and fresh, creating an incredible listening experience. Genre variation is used to cultivate a cinematic journey, aided by powerful lyricism and tone. This balance is rare, but Arctic Monkeys manages to dodge the chaos. Instead, as the title of the closing track, this album does “Perfect Sense”.