Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Album Review: Artic Monkeys - The Car

Arctic Monkeys
The Car
** out of *****

On 2018's Tranquility Base: Hotel + Casino the Artic Monkeys went out on a limb, experimenting by eliminating rock and roll from their sound, going with a focus on strings and lounge music banality. Front man Alex Turner pushed the band to record it while the group originally envisioned it as a side project for the lead Monkey. Fans seemed to be split on the successfulness, but Turner has only dug deeper into the piano, strings and David Bowie like transformation with this follow up The Car

Simply put, if you liked their last album and want more in this vein, The Car will satisfy. If you were disappointed by it, like RtBE, then you will be disappointed again.    

The only true saving grace to over indulgent pieces on The Car is the fact that Turner sings strongly throughout. What he has to say never rises up to the level of intriguing or even memorable, gone are the turns of phrase of past albums which were so poignant. The scene is set right from the opening orchestrated intro of "There Better Be A Mirrorball" with a slow groove and layers of strings. While the Burt Bacharach pomp is in place, these strings and bass aren't as warm or lush as your typical Daptone Records release; things remain cold and distant.  

Bass bumps and a funky guitar line are injected into "I Ain't Quite Where I Think I Am" proving one of the better songs before things start pulsing with dull electro vibes on "Sculptures of Anything Goes". Things return to the overdone, slow rolling, theatrical vein throughout a run of monotonous numbers ("Jet Skis on the Moat",  "Body Paint", "The Car") until things get more interesting. 

"Big Ideas" uses the same ingredients but adds a guitar solo and has the feeling of more vital importance instead of detached indifference elevating the track. "Hello You" continues that sense of vitality with drive and humdrums, accentuating the strings and swells. 

The folksy jumbled mess of "Mr. Schwartz" kills any momentum though as the band dips back into the strings feeling as if they need a thematic crutch to tie it together. The full on Broadway show tune "Perfect Sense" closes the album with horns, strings and the same slow rolling feel presented throughout. 

Experimentation, evolution and growth are all vital for bands. Fans may embrace this continued new sounds, but the dullness is also hard to avoid. For a band who crafted RtBE's favorite album of the last decade there isn't so much a desire to hear a return to that particular sound, there is just a desire to get out of this overdosing on strings, overindulgent, rut. 

The Car, unfortunatelyis a boring ride through exasperated, theatrical, Bowie inspired offerings.  
Support the artists, buy the album, peep some video below:

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