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AM

Alternative & Indie - Released September 9, 2013 | Domino Recording Co

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Hi-Res Audio - Sélection du Mercury Prize
If Arctic Monkeys launched a tentative retreat on Suck It & See, their first effort after being seduced by Josh Homme, the group once again forge ahead into bold new territory on AM, their fifth album. Neatly splitting the difference between the band's two personalities -- the devotees of barbed British pop and disciples of curdled heavy rock -- AM consolidates Arctic Monkeys strengths, a tricky task in and of itself, but the band pushes further, incorporating unapologetic glam stomps, fuzzy guitars, and a decidedly strong rhythmic undercurrent. At times, AM pulses to a distinctly danceable rhythm -- "Fireplace" percolates while "Why Do You Only Call Me When You're High" simmers and "Knee Socks" nearly rivals Franz Ferdinand in disco rock -- but this isn't an album made for nights out; it's a soundtrack for nights in. Too much of Alex Turner's mind is preoccupied with love gone wrong, jealousy, and general misanthropy, so even when he's singing about a "No. 1 Party Anthem," he's doing so with a nearly visible sneer. Such an undercurrent of cynicism makes AM an ideal album to listen to under the cover of darkness, but due to the Arctic Monkeys' muscular wallop and musical restlessness, it never feels like the band is wallowing in bleakness. Instead, this is vibrant, moody music that showcases a band growing ever stronger with each risk and dare they take. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 29, 2006 | Domino Recording Co

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Sélection du Mercury Prize
Breathless, hyperbolic praise was piled upon the Arctic Monkeys and their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, an instant phenomenon without peer. Within the course of a year, the band rose from the ranks of an Internet phenomenon to the biggest band in the U.K., all on the strength of early demos circulated on the Web as MP3s. Those demos built the band a rabid fan base before the Monkeys had released a record, even before they played more than a handful of gigs. In effect, the group performed a complete run around the industry, avoiding conventional routes toward stardom, which paid off in spades. When Whatever People Say I Am hit the streets in January 2006, it sold a gob-smacking 118,501 copies within its first week of release, which not only made it the fastest-selling debut ever, but it sold more than the rest of the Top 20 combined -- a remarkable achievement by any measure. Last time such excitement surrounded a new British guitar band it was a decade earlier, as Britpop hit overdrive with the release of Oasis' 1994 debut, Definitely Maybe. All four members of the Arctic Monkeys were a little bit shy of their tenth birthday at the time, a bit young to be sure, but old enough to have Oasis be their first favorite band. So, it's little surprise that the Gallaghers' laddism -- celebrating nights out fueled by lager and loud guitars -- is the bedrock foundation of the Arctic Monkeys, just the way as it has been for most British rock bands since the mid-'90s, but the Monkeys' true musical ground zero is 2001, the year the Strokes stormed British consciousness with their debut, Is This It. The Arctic Monkeys borrow heavily from the Strokes' stylized ennui, adding an equal element of the Libertines' shambolic neo-classicist punk, undercut by a hint of dance-punk learned from Franz Ferdinand. But where the Strokes, the Libertines, and Franz all knowingly reference the past, this Sheffield quartet is only concerned with the now, piecing together elements of their favorite bands as lead singer/songwriter Alex Turner tells stories from their lives -- mainly hookups on the dancefloor and underage drinking, balanced by the occasional imagined tragic tales of prostitution and the music industry. Whatever People Say I Am captures the band mashing up the Strokes and the Libertines at will, jamming in too many angular riffs into too short of a space, tearing through the songs as quickly as possible. But where the Strokes camouflaged their songwriting skills with a laconic, take-it-or-leave-it sexiness and where the Libertines mythologized England with a junkie poeticism, the Arctic Monkeys at their heart are simple, everyday lads, lacking any sense of sex appeal or romanticism, or even the desire for either. Nor do they harbor much menace, either in their tightly wound music or in how Turner spits out his words. Also, the dry production, sounding for all the world like an homage to Is This It -- all clanking guitars and clattering drums, with most of the energy coming from the group's sloppy call-and-response backing vocals -- keeps things rather earthbound, too; the band doesn't soar with youthful abandon, it merely raises a bit of noise in the background. In a way, Whatever People Say I Am is an ideal album for the Information Overload Age -- nearly every track here is overloaded with riffs and words, and just when it's about to sort itself out, it stops short. But even if it's an album of and for its time, Whatever People Say I Am doesn't sound particularly fresh. After all, the Arctic Monkeys are reworking the sounds of a revival without any knowledge -- or even much interest -- in the past, so they wind up with a patchwork of common sounds, stitched together in ways that may have odd juxtapositions, but usually feel familiar, because they're so green, they repeat the same patterns without realizing they're treading a well-worn path. This, of course, doesn't make them or their debut bad, just surprisingly predictable: they're competent, lacking enough imagination or restlessness to do anything other than the expected, which for anybody who hears them after reading the reviews, is quite underwhelming. The one thing that sets them apart, and does give them promise, is Alex Turner's writerly ambitions. While he may fall far short of fellow Sheffield lyricist Jarvis Cocker, or such past teenage renegades as Paul Weller, Turner does illustrate ample ambition here. While his words can be overcooked -- allusions to Romeo & Juliet do not necessarily count as depth -- he does tell stories, which does distinguish him from his first-person peers. But it's a double-edged sword, his gift: the very thing that sets him apart -- his fondness for detail, his sense of place -- may be the quality that makes his work resonate for thousands of young Britons, but they also tie him completely to a particular time and place that makes it harder to relate to for listeners who aren't in his demographic or country (and perhaps time). If his band had either a stronger musical viewpoint or more kinetic energy, or if their songs didn't play like a heap of riffs, such provincial shortcomings would be transcended by the sheer force of the music. But the music, while good, is not great, and that's what makes Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not a curiosity that defines a time when niches are so specialized and targeted, they turn into a phenomenon overnight and last just about as long. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 11, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 22, 2007 | Domino Recording Co

Distinctions Sélection du Mercury Prize
Breathless praise is a time-honored tradition in British pop music, but even so, the whole brouhaha surrounding the 2006 debut of the Arctic Monkeys bordered on the absurd. It wasn't enough for the Arctic Monkeys to be the best new band of 2006; they had to be the saviors of rock & roll. Lead singer/songwriter Alex Turner had to be the best songwriter since Noel Gallagher or perhaps even Paul Weller, and their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, at first was hailed as one of the most important albums of the decade, and then, just months after its release, NME called it one of the Top Five British albums ever. Heady stuff for a group just out of their teens, and they weathered the storm with minimal damage, losing their bassist but not their sense of purpose as they coped in the time-honored method for young bands riding the wave of enormous success: they kept on working. All year long they toured, rapidly writing and recording their second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, getting it out just a little over a year after their debut, a speedy turnaround by any measure. Some may call it striking when the iron is hot, cashing in while there's still interest, but Favourite Worst Nightmare is the opposite of opportunism: it's the vibrant, thrilling sound of a band coming into its own. The Arctic Monkeys surely showed potential on Whatever People Say I Am, but their youthful vigor often camouflaged their debt to other bands. Here, they're absorbing their influences, turning their liberal borrowings from the Libertines, the Strokes, and the Jam into something that's their own distinct identity. Unlike any of those three bands, however, the Arctic Monkeys haven't stumbled on their second album; they haven't choked on hubris, they haven't overthought their sophomore salvo, nor have they cranked it out too quickly. That constant year of work resulted in startling growth as the band is testing the limits of what they can do and where they can go. Favourite Worst Nightmare hardly abandons the pleasures of their debut but instead frantically expands upon them. They still have a kinetic nervous energy, but this isn't a quartet that bashes out simply three-chord rock & roll. The Monkeys may start with an infectious riff, but then they'll violently burst into jagged yet tightly controlled blasts of post-punk squalls, or they'll dress a verse with circular harmonies as they do at the end of "Fluorescent Adolescent." Their signature is precision, evident in their concise songs, deftly executed instrumental interplay, and the details within Turner's wry wordplay, which is clever but never condescending. Indeed, the remarkable thing about the Arctic Monkeys -- which Favourite Worst Nightmare brings into sharp relief -- is their genuine guilelessness, how they restructure classic rock clichés in a way that pays little mind to how things were done in the past, and that all goes back to their youth. Born in the '80s and raised on the Strokes and the Libertines, they treat all rock as a level playing field, loving its traditions but not seeing musical barriers between generations, since the band learned all of rock history at once and now spit it all out in a giddy, cacophonous blend of post-punk and classic rock that sounds fresh, partially because they jam each of their very songs with a surplus of ideas. Some of this was true on their debut album, but it's the restlessness of Favourite Worst Nightmare that impresses -- they're discovering themselves as they go and, unlike so many modern bands, they're interested in the discovery and not appearances. They'll venture into darker territory, they'll slow things down on "Only Ones Who Know," they'll play art punk riffs without pretension. Here, they sound like they'll try anything, which makes this a rougher album in some ways than their debut, which indeed was more cohesive. All the songs on Whatever shared a similar viewpoint, whereas the excitement here is that there's a multitude of viewpoints, all suggesting different tantalizing directions they could go. On that debut, it was possible hear all the ways they were similar to their predecessors, but here it's possible to hear all the ways the Arctic Monkeys are a unique, vibrant band and that's why Favourite Worst Nightmare is in its own way more exciting than the debut: it reveals the depth and ambition of the band and, in doing so, it will turn skeptics into believers. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 6, 2011 | Domino Recording Co

Returning home after their Josh Homme-directed voyage into the desert, Arctic Monkeys get back to basics on their fourth album, Suck It and See. The journey is figurative: Suck It was recorded not in Sheffield, but in Los Angeles, with their longtime producer James Ford, who conjures a sound not unlike the one he captured on the band’s 2007 sophomore set Your Favourite Worst Nightmare. Homme may be gone but he’s not forgotten, not when the group regularly trades in fuzztones and heavy-booted stomps, accentuating their choruses with single-note guitar runs lifted from the Pixies. Ultimately, all these thick tones provide color on a set of songs trimmed of fatty excess and reliant on sturdy melodicism, arriving via the guitar hooks and sung melodies. Naturally, in a setting without frills, Alex Turner's lyrics are also pushed to the forefront, more so than they were on Humbug, and he shows no signs of slack, still displaying an uncanny ear for conversational rhythms and quick-witted puns. If Suck It and See is missing anything, it’s a powerhouse single. “Brick by Brick” contains a crushing riff and “Don’t Sit Down Because I Moved Your Chair” pulses with an insinuating menace, but neither are knockouts, they’re growers that get stronger with repeated spins. And in that sense, they’re quite representative of the album as a whole: Suck It and See may be at the opposite end of the spectrum from Humbug -- it’s concentrated and purposeful where its predecessor sprawled -- yet it still demands attention from the listener, delivering its rewards according to just how much time you’re willing to devote. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 20, 2009 | Domino Recording Co

Facing the third album blues, the Arctic Monkeys turned to Josh Homme, the Queens of the Stone Age mastermind renowned for his collaborations but heretofore untested as a producer. On first glance, it's a peculiar pair -- the heirs of Paul Weller meet the heavy desert mystic -- but this isn't a team of equals, it's a big brother helping his little siblings go wayward and get weird. Homme doesn't imprint his own views on the Monkeys but encourages them to follow their strange instincts, whether it's a Nick Cave obsession or the inclination to emphasize atmosphere over energy. Wading into the murk of Humbug it becomes clear that the common ground between the Monkeys and Homme is the actual act of making music, the pleasure of not knowing what comes next when an entire band is drifting inside a zone. Since so much of Humbug is about its process, it's not always immediately accessible or pleasurable to an outside listener, nor is it quite the thickly colored freakout Homme's presence suggests. The Monkeys still favor angular riffs and clenched rhythms, constructing tightly framed vignettes not widescreen epics, but they're working with a darker palette and creating vaguely abstract compositions, sensibilities that extend to Alex Turner's words too, as he trades keen detail for vivid scrawled impressions. Every element of the album reflects a band testing its limits, seeing where they could -- not necessarily will -- go next; it's a voyage through territory that's new to them as musicians (which doesn't necessarily mean that it's also new to their audience), offering at a peek at what lies beyond via three songs cut after the desert sessions, songs informed by what they learned during their sojourn with Homme. This trio of tunes, highlighted by "Cornerstone," aren't as darkly as evocative as the rest of the dense, gnarled Humbug but they're among the best songs the album has to offer suggesting that the record may mean more in the long-term that it does on its own. Nevertheless, Humbug makes two things clear: Arctic Monkeys are serious about being in a band, about making music, and they are the first major British band in generations unencumbered by fear or spite for America. Humbug was not done with hopes of breaking the American market or reacting spitefully against it, it is solely about big, loud, dark noise. No wonder Josh Homme sensed he had a band of little brothers in Arctic Monkeys. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 17, 2005 | Domino Recording Co

Hailing from Sheffield, England, the Arctic Monkeys are a bona fide phenomenon, having gained a devoted live following well before any major record labels had a clue about their existence. Their debut EP, featuring their U.K. hit single "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor," is raw guitar pop, which, combined with their improbable youth, conjures memories of '70s teen punk prodigies the Undertones, if the Undertones had been into U.K. and U.S. hip-hop, Oasis, System of a Down, and Queens of the Stone Age.
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 16, 2009 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 18, 2013 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 22, 2006 | Domino Recording Co

Starting off with a song that is equal parts the Corrs as it is Billie Myers singing "Kiss the Rain," Arctic knows how to create an infectious and danceable groove. "Blue Eyes" is instantly likeable, since it has enough subtle twists and turns during the chorus. Ending the tune a cappella style is another strong point. "Clear Skies" features Kate Leduc's above-average vocals, but the song tends to be a bit too formulaic. Its guitar is also kept well in the distance, something it could use a bit more of during the chorus. When the group opts for a funkier and layered sound on "Everytime People Stare," everything seems to click. The balance between vocals, guitar, and Fred Leduc's programming gives it a slightly Garbage quality. Arctic knows how to create pop/rock music in the vein of INXS with catchy rhythms and arrangements. The slow love ballad "Incomplete Without You" sounds somewhat bland and might fit better near the album's end. Unfortunately, this is followed by another down-tempo track, "Court Jester," that showcases Leduc's range but little else. It's a soulful approach but sounds too forced to be credible. It picks up slightly in its tempo but isn't enough to be memorable. It's a tune Annie Lennox would perform in her sleep. "One More Night" returns to Arctic's strengths, a melodic and tight pop/rock sound much like the Corrs. "Come 'n' Dance" has more of a murky and moody quality to it in the style of Sass Jordan. And despite the title, it's probably one of the least-danceable songs on the record. "Tomorrow" has a softer rock quality to it but works surprisingly well. It's also one of the few tunes Leduc seems to carry all by herself. "My Momma Said" has a promising beginning, but works much better when the tempo is doubled, which it does during the chorus portions. The album ends on another high point during "Be All My Only," which resembles Shirley Manson in certain spots. It's a perfect blend of new wave keyboards sitting under a beautiful rhythm section. While you may think of the cold when Arctic is mentioned, this disc does a great job of warming you up. ~ Jason MacNeil
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 8, 2007 | Domino Recording Co

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Pop/Rock - Released April 23, 2012 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 14, 2006 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 15, 2007 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 2, 2013 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 9, 2013 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 20, 2013 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 16, 2006 | Domino Recording Co

Hailing from Sheffield, England, the Arctic Monkeys gained a devoted live following soon after their formation in 2003, well before any major record labels had a clue about their existence. Released in advance of their eagerly awaited debut album, When the Sun Goes Down is an EP featuring a trio of the band's U.K. B-sides. It displays a Ray Davies-style songwriting sensibility, which, combined with the Monkeys' improbable youth, conjures memories of '70s teen punk prodigies the Undertones, if the Undertones had been into U.K. and U.S. hip-hop, Oasis, System of a Down, and Queens of the Stone Age.
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Pop/Rock - Released May 30, 2011 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 22, 2010 | Domino Recording Co

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Arctic Monkeys in the magazine