mvm.

music in review. music in discussions.


Arctic Monkeys: “The Car” album review – a lavish and stylish affair

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The band replace dirty dancefloor with pensive mirrorball in seventh outing, The Car.

As we hear the first taste of the band’s seventh album, The Car, with Turner’s crooning “Don’t get emotional, that ain’t like you/ Yesterday’s still leaking through the roof,” we begin to think how we managed to get here.

Straight-edged four-to-the-floor rock to the decorum of stylish debonair lounge-jazz rock, we have seen four Sheffield lads mature with age and songwriting that has brought with new style and new adventure with every record they have brought out since their adolescent debut in ’06.

With that, we take another step into the endless colour cinematic canvas which started with Tranquility Base, their sixth album in 2018. Now firmly back on the ground with automobiles and jet skis, The Car delivers the second flavourful palette to the canvas. Enriching orchestral strings, lulling moogs and captive melodies: it really brings home a true emotional range that we’ve never seen before.

Equipped with more potent writing fuel and panache, The Car is another muzzling to those old-school rock enthusiasts who still expect 30-odd musicians to come up with fiery rock anthems about heartbreaks on a night-out. Instead, we see a band consistently reinventing themselves with each record they produce. Albeit another implication that simply reaffirms them as true music artists.

<< Sumptuously glamorous in one line to another, The Car is a soundtrack worthy of any French noir film of any era – which is quite fitting to mention considering Turner recorded the majority of his lyrics at La Frette on the outskirts of Paris. >>


“Since the last ten years or so since AM, everything before that I felt like it was connected to a rehearsal space… Suck it and See especially was totally like […] we worked everything out facing each other and went on recorded it exactly like that.. with very little discussion. Then with AM […] we {sort of} experimented more with the studio… since then, I can’t remember a rehearsal really, the whole function of that space in relation to making records.”

Alex Turner in conversation with Zane Lowe, Apple Music

An enriching escapade cut in a monastery, it really brings home the cohesive unit of the band as a whole, as each band member – Alex, Jamie, Nick, and Matt alike – find their true north with fitting roles.

Deftly constructed and poetically beautiful,There’d Better Be A Mirrorball was the first taste into AM’s new turning point with The Car. With Mirrorball being the pivotal moment in which direction this album was going to go in – it’s also a worthy moment to get lost in. The funk schematics of I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am pulls up an intriguing narrative of feeling lost which almost everyone can certainly relate to.

Sculptures of Anything Goes is very much one of the most progressive moments on the album in terms of songwriting. Ladled with a thick smudging of moog synths with the band lifting in for every bar or so, it really brings home the true value of using space in music.

Jet Skis on the Moat is very much an idiosyncratic food-for-thought as we get the tonal wah-wahs of Bowie-esque guitar as we traverse into sheer stand-out of Body Paint. A contemplative resurgence ultimately always growing, it’s a song that will stand the test of time… “Straight from the cover shoot/Still a trace of body paint/On your legs and on your arms and on your face.”

Self-titled The Car is very much one for the road, almost as if you’re setting yourself up for another filming of that dusty mid-western where Eastwood himself stars in. Very much a ballad of what could’ve been, Big Ideas is a more personal narrative to Turner himself as he struggles to be that ‘rockstar’ that everyone desperately wants him to be; “I had big ideas, the band were so excited / The kind you’d rather not share over the phone / But now the orchestra’s got us all surrounded / And I cannot for the life of me remember how they go.” Hello You is very much an enthused Knee Socks nod while Mr Schwartz brings Turner’s charm of characterisation in his work – similar to Mark working on the front desk at the hotel on the moon. It ends with Perfect Sense, an enriching Bond credit sequence as we wave farewell to the bands’ second chapter into the multiverse of the perplexing, the contemplative and the beautiful.

It may not be your bag of tricks. Hell, it may not even be your type of music. But, from a songwriting perspective, it holds all the cards. The Car is a true piece of art that will hopefully, stand for generations to come.


2 responses to “Arctic Monkeys: “The Car” album review – a lavish and stylish affair”

  1. A beautiful review Alex. Your writing keeps getting better and better. As for “The Car”, I’ve heard only a few tracks, but I like that the other Alex and his Monkeys continue to push their musical envelope into new horizons, rather than relying on familiar old tropes. Besides, I think I’d be happy listening to Mr. Turner sing the telephone book.

    Liked by 1 person

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