Artists Of The Year CMU Approved

CMU Artists Of The Year 2013: Arctic Monkeys

By | Published on Tuesday 17 December 2013

Arctic Monkeys

Each weekday in the run up to the Christmas break, we will reveal another of our ten favourite artists of the year. To see each artist as they’re revealed, sign up to receive the CMU Daily or check this page. Today, Arctic Monkeys…

Against mile-high odds, Arctic Monkeys have had a shock ‘sexy renaissance’ this year, stealing a best-selling stealth hit in fifth LP ‘AM’, a true triumph given the current interest-lull in ‘indie’ music.

A razor-sharp simplification of all the Arctics are and were; ‘AM’ is an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind ace card for a band to deal at this middling phase in their lifeline. I say ‘middling’, Alex Turner et al aren’t exactly past it, but their last LP, 2011’s ‘Suck It And See’, felt like them merely ticking over, just getting by on that whole ‘everyman-with-charisma’ thing they do so very well. Well, that, and strong songwriting and Turner’s still-unrivaled turn of phrase, which I guess means they were already getting by quite nicely, thanks.

But see, ‘Suck It…’ had brains, and brawn, but it sounded torn between the timid ‘Piledriver Waltz’-style sonnets a la the Arctic Monkeys of yesteryear, and its more muscular, ambitious parts, swinging spin balls like ‘Brick By Brick’ and the appallingly titled ‘Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’. It’s a restive, stormy record by a band not quite satisfied with themselves, and practically bleeds dissatisfaction, which, though that is and will always be their shtick, felt too worn a shtick for them to be leaning on so heavily.

The other issue was that it didn’t really have any ‘hits’ on its hands, not that anyone minded, but still, a hit would’ve been nice. Not that Arctic Monkeys have really been much of a singles band since they discovered the medium of the album, until, that is, lead ‘AM’ track ‘R U Mine’, which came in like a wrecking ball at the start of 2012, signaling in very large capital letters the beginning of a new Arctics age.

And then there’s the new image, an all-new devil-may-care ‘attitude’, the ‘fuck it’ swag and bravado they’d play-acted at in the past, but never been brave enough to fully don. It was almost like, along with the pearl snaps and 1950s bin-man coif, Turner in particular was taking on a whole other character, and rolling in the creative scope that kind of ‘disconnect’ affords.

He’s stronger – in voice and as a lyricist/writer/producer – than ever, as are the band as an entity, and all this just as it was starting to look doubtful that they could ever match ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ for vigor and all-over quality. ‘AM’ is remarkable because it’s such a radical save, and what’s more, because it shows that, for a band who were idling somewhat, stuck on a plateau, it isn’t over til it’s over, or until you give up. Divine inspiration can dawn on any given day, and for the Arctic Monkeys it came to them in the ‘AM’.