The evolution of Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys continues, with their musically grown-up seventh album, ‘The Car’, which includes soaring strings, nostalgic hints at their youth – namely through Alex Turner’s instantly recognisable voice – and a gloriously rich, cinematic ‘60s sound.
Whilst lacking the frenetic energy and smack-’em-round-the-ears working-class lyrical poetry of their earlier albums, ‘The Car,’ at times, feels too mellow and horizontal. But the more you listen to the ten tracks, the more this album makes perfect sense. After two decades together, it’s inevitable that we age, as do the finest wines and our experiences.
After all, what were you doing twenty years ago? Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys (Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Nick O’Malley, Matt Helders) were just starting to gain notoriety, thanks to the Internet and were just five years away from winning their first awards for their debut album. They’re still the only band with all six albums to reach number one and I’ve no doubt ‘The Car’ will join the top.
These thirty-seven minutes of music takes you on a, well, car journey around Bowie-esque vocals and vintage Vegas-inspired desert landscape akin to previous album, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino.
‘The Car’ starts with the lead single and strongest track, the simply lovely and reflective ‘There’d Better Be A Mirrorball’, taking the positive view of a relationship closure “You’re getting cynical and that won’t do, I’d throw the rose tint back on the exploded view darling if I were you”.
‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’ is the most difficult title to roll off the tongue, and feels like the most fractured song on the album, offering an insight into tumultuous minds. I sense a panoramic view from a plane – whether jet or dimensional the jury’s still out – and there’s definite turbulence. Third track, ‘Scriptures of Anything Goes’ isn’t quite as bumpy, and feels like Turner’s wrestling with the identity of a performer.
If I’d listened to the vinyl instead of a digital download, side B, the second half of ‘The Car’, beginning with a fun, relatable title track that we’ve all done on holiday, would be the side I’d play on repeat. The final three songs, ‘Hello You’, ‘Mr Schwarz’ and ‘Perfect Sense’ are thoroughly enjoyable and acknowledge the origins of the Arctic Monkeys while demonstrating their future musical direction. Think Bowie with the ‘Heroes’ album and Stereophonics with their ‘Graffiti on a Train’ album; ‘The Car’ is Arctic Monkeys readying for their next two decades of music.
The ten new songs were written by Alex Turner, produced by James Ford and recorded at Butley Priory, Suffolk, RAK Studios, London and La Frette, Paris.
Catch the grown up Arctic Monkeys on their stadium tour in 2023, where there’s plenty of room for The Car as well as Brianstorm, Mardy Bum and Crying Lightning.
Track listing: 1. There’d Better Be A Mirrorball 2. I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am 3. Sculptures of Anything Goes 4. Jet Skis On The Moat 5. Body Paint 6. The Car 7. Big Ideas 8. Hello You 9. Mr Schwarz 10. Perfect Sense Record label: Domino Records Release date: 21st October 2022 Buy ‘The Car’ now