Arctic Monkeys – AM

Rs 120 (iTunes MP3)

What is it about British rock that’s without fail a delightful, diverse mix album after album? The Arctic Monkeys’ fifth studio album, simply titled AM, brings them closer to being among bands such as Radiohead, Coldplay and Bloc Party – delivering a solid release every time they want to, with no hesitation at all.

And they do it their way – with their signature style that draws from garage rock and alternative punk and a wonderful amount of wit and subversiveness. No wonder there’s a song called ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ that’s actually a downbeat, wistful number. Some critics note it might just be a nod toward doing the exact opposite of one of their biggest hits, ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’. That was 2005 – and now they have so many songs between them that the first listen always confuses you. You take away from the opener ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and the follow-up second track ‘R U Mine?’ that this is classic Arctic Monkeys – very tight with the drums with vocalist Alex Turner going on like a boy about coaxing women.

But it works, at least on listeners. ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ was among their latest singles in the run-up to releasing AM, and it gives a taste of how Turner deals with rejection (short answer: with the catchiest tune on the album). There’s the slightly-heavy ‘Arabella’, which is almost as energetic as things get on AM, not that it’s a bad thing. There’s a certain R&B turn that Turner takes, as does the band, on songs like the too-short ‘Fireside’ that puts together acoustic guitars and drums to sound smooth as ever.

They throw in a curveball on the last two songs on the album, ‘Knee Socks’ – the addictive, hip hop -influenced psychedelic number on which Turner turns promiscuous predator once again, and ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ – an out and out R&B slowjam that sounds like the Arctic Monkeys took a page out of R. Kelly – Turner now finally playing the pleading, foolish lover.

It’s not a shock that gets you to skip the song, but it makes you wonder where Arctic Monkeys are headed, if they can throw in surprises on an otherwise-perfectly rock-oriented album that is AM. Their fans, of course, aren’t going to desert them any time soon.

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Beat streetNovember 26, 2013