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Arctic Monkeys - The Car (Album Review)

Monday, 31 October 2022 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Zackery Michael

Everyone’s heard of the great rock ‘n’ roll swindle, and the way Arctic Monkeys’ career has veered off in totally non-rock directions has left fans of the raw, edgy guitar onslaught of earlier albums scratching their heads. It began with ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino’, a collection of, for want of a better term, space-lounge music. Little remained of the old fire, and its successor ‘The Car’ follows in the same vein.

Over time, Alex Turner’s lyrics have evolved greatly too, although you could be left puzzled as to what exactly he’s trying to say with this pile of poetic metaphors. On first play, you’re left with a beige impression that matches the bland walls of your new build. Admittedly, though, it’s a grower. But that could simply be because there’s an awful lot of room for growth after that opening listen.

Maybe the band are straining in an attempt to create a new sub-genre, as elements of jazz, prog-rock and other loosely structured musical styles are reshaped into more concise forms.

If you listen closely to Sculptures Of Anything Goes, its lyrics tell of “your horrible new sound”. Are we now in a completely self-referential space? The title in itself is almost challenging you to question if they are throwing everything at the wall to see if anything sticks.

Towards the album’s conclusion things noticeably improve, with Turner crooning, “gradually it’s coming into view” during the satisfying Mr Schwartz. It’s a statement that reveals the album’s journey towards appreciation, perhaps, and again there might be a hidden message within the strange poetry of Jet Skis On The Moat, where Turner asks, “Are you just happy to sit there and watch while the paint job dries?” This could be directed at the listener, as the album’s longevity could well be decided by how many hours you are prepared to sacrifice to try and embrace ‘The Car’.

As a complete work this is undoubtedly ambitious and thought-provoking, just as it’s pedestrian and patience-taxing. Its appeal does improve over time but there are very few highlights on par with their earlier work that would justify a place on a greatest hits album. With Turner’s abstract approach making it hard to relate to a lot of the jumbled messages, there is a constant disconnect. ‘The Car’ is an enigma, and something that will likely find its true place only when Arctic Monkeys are long gone.

Arctic Monkeys Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon May 29 2023 - BRISTOL Ashton Gate
Wed May 31 2023 - COVENTRY Coventry Building Society Arena
Fri June 02 2023 - MANCHESTER Emirates Old Trafford
Sat June 03 2023 - MANCHESTER Emirates Old Trafford
Mon June 05 2023 - MIDDLESBROUGH Riverside Stadium
Wed June 07 2023 - NORWICH Carrow Road
Fri June 09 2023 - SHEFFIELD Hillsborough Park
Sat June 10 2023 - SHEFFIELD Hillsborough Park
Mon June 12 2023 - SWANSEA Swansea.com Stadium
Wed June 14 2023 - SOUTHAMPTON Ageas Bowl
Fri June 16 2023 - LONDON Emirates Stadium
Sat June 17 2023 - LONDON Emirates Stadium
Sun June 18 2023 - LONDON Emirates Stadium
Tue June 20 2023 - DUBLIN Malahide Castle
Sun June 25 2023 - GLASGOW Bellahouston Park

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