Wednesday, 26 February 2014

REDISCOVERING ARCTIC MONKEYS

I wanted to write about how I've fell hopelessly back in love with Arctic Monkeys, and I felt like a facebook status or a tweet wouldn't do the job.

It's obviously no secret that their first two albums are mind-blowingly astonishing, especially if you are the same age as me. The soundtrack to my teenhood, for me and a bunch of my mates calling it sentimental almost doesn't do it justice, it's much, much more than that, but I wanted to talk about their newer work and how I've come to appreciate it.



Their new album received critical acclaim and won a lot of old time fans who had lost interest in recent years back. It was such a well written, sexy, mature sound. I think with the echoey, tinny open guitars and the way Alex puts together certain melodies it really put me in mind of the Beatles, not for the first time; The Last Shadow Puppets album was obviously heavily influenced by them.

I finally got around to properly getting into the Beatles and given them a listen. My mum has always tried to get me to give them a go and It's like I've always known they were going to be good and kind of thought I didn't need to discover them as such. I don't think there was a day in January when I didn't listen to them, I immersed myself and got hooked. I fully get it now. Like to say they are not one bit over egged is the exact truth, they are every bit as good as people say they are.



It's with listening to the Beatles and studying what makes their songs so incredible that I've found a new love for the Arctic Monkeys stuff I had previously overlooked. It's like it's completely opened my eyes to a new beauty in those certain records I hadn't seen before. At the time of release I was just mad they were never going to make another Fake Tales of San Francisco and ignored them. I'm sure also with the fact that I enjoyed the new record and that is a very mature version of their sound I became willing to give the previous couple of albums another go. It has been so, so worth it.

Alex has always had an amazing way with words, that's no secret. The comedic essence that lingered over the first album was almost it's pull, certainly part of the allure. As with 505 and Mardy Bum he has always had a knack for writing a quaint love song, but a couple of the later efforts have completely blew me away.



Love is a Laserquest is a song that up until last week I had ignored, on an album I almost refused to acknowledge the existence of. It's only with listening to what I have been listening to recently I've come to realise how impressive the song actually is. He sings:

'Do you still feel younger than you thought you would by now
Or darling have you started feeling old yet?
Don't worry I'm sure that you're still breaking hearts
With the efficiency that only youth can harness

And do you still think love is a laserquest
Or do you take it all more seriously?
I've tried to ask you this in some daydreams that I've had
But you're always busy being make believe

And do you look into the mirror to remind yourself you're there
Or has somebody's goodnight kisses got that covered?
When I'm not being honest I pretend that you were just some lover'

Who writes like that? It's not only that, the defeated heartbroken tones in his voice completely sell it, it's a beautiful song, even if it's not 4 scruffy punks from Sheffield thrashing their guitars and singing about nightclubs.

Humbug, their 3rd effort had a couple of songs that went down well with the old faithful at the time, the singles Crying Lightning and Cornerstone didn't get overlooked. That was an album I had listened to a fair bit but I was suitably underwhelmed. The final nail in the coffin that they had changed as such. Again, with revisiting it having found a love for the Beatles, new songs were grabbing my attention.

 

Secret Door is beautifully written song, that (not unlike the Beatles) switches into a slowly paced singalong halfway through. It still completely captures what I love about Arctic Monkeys. The juxtaposition of a well placed 'fuck' in this second half is absolutely classic of Alex's writing, but with the maturity and backing vocals of the latest album. I think this is a song about the paparazzi and their dealings with Alexa Chung (Alex's girlfriend at the time), the lyrics gallop so poetically and depicting a situation as simple as him being dragged along by his bird who is unfazed by the medias attention becomes such an amazing verse. Alex sings:

'The secret door swings behind us
She's saying nothing
She's just giggling along

And even if they were to find us
I wouldn't notice,
I'm completely occupied
At all the fools on parade
Cavort and carry on for waiting eyes
That you would rather be beside than in front of
But she's never been the kind
To be hollowed by the stares

Fools on parade
Frolic and fuck about to make her gaze
Turn to a scribble on a page by a picture
That holds her options
But you're daft to think she'd care'

Finally I'll draw your attention to this fan collected project I stumbled across yesterday. Everyone knows that Arctic Monkeys have always been an incredible live act. Some kind soul has collated a load of acoustic performances and put together the album 'Straighten The Rudder'.



It's so lovely. It's obviously hugely stripped back, and it's far easier to appreciate the lyrics as there is far less going on. The extended triple disc version available to download here has versions of songs from the newest album right back to stuff from their EPs before they blew up.



Piledriver Waltz is a song that a lot of people whose interests wandered at the same time as mine still enjoy. It's no hidden gem and of course was originally written and recorded for the Submarine soundtrack, entirely performed by Alex Turner. There is a beautiful innocence to most of the songs they wrote around this time, and it really shines through in this version, which is on Straighten the Rudder. The eccentricities of Alex's Sheffield accent are so clear on this recording, you can fully admire how gently he picks words up and puts them down again. He sings:

'You look like you've been for breakfast at the Heartbreak Hotel
And sat in the back booth by the pamphlets and the literature on how to lose
Your waitress was miserable and so was your food
If you're gonna try and walk on water make sure you wear your comfortable shoes'


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I just feel like I've rediscovered them and now I've got a new found love for all the stuff I've completely overlooked previously. I hope if you've taken the time to read this and digest the music I've posted you can too. Arctic Monkeys were around long before all these dippy young girls started falling for that pretentious, wannabe-American wanker with quiffed hair Alex has become, and they'll be around long after they've lost interest and gone over to pretend to worship whoever their magazines and blogs are telling them to fancy next.

This is just a letter of appreciation to an astonishing back catalogue of amazingly well written music, the growth of a band I've always loved and a wish that they continue to take my breath away.

1 comment:

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