Arctic Monkeys The Best You Ever Had – After a glorious, yet divisive, sonic shift, the Sheffield band double down with their lush new album ‘The Car’, proof they’re ready to follow wherever the road takes them
From the outside of Suffolk’s Butley Priory, it looks as if the ancient building is collapsing in on itself. Located in a secluded and rural part of southern England is the sanctuary of this converted 14th century monastery that the Arctic Monkeys have chosen to call home for two weeks. Behind the stained glass, guitarist Jamie Cook is conjuring a rousing gale, rocking in place. His bandmates watch, eyes blazing with excitement at the wall of noise that opens up before them.
Arctic Monkeys The Best You Ever Had
It’s mid-July 2021 and this is the Sheffield band’s last week at Butley Priory where they have been working on ‘The Car’, their masterful seventh album. Prior to the recording, the building had long been part of the quartet’s legend: this is where longtime producer James Ford—recognized by fans as “the fifth arctic monkey”—celebrated his 40th birthday. Before they reunited here for the first time since lockdown, however, the band’s initial intention for the record was to “write louder songs than we’ve had in a while,” frontman Alex Turner says, but he quickly realized that this collection was evolving beyond a foundation of heavy riffs. “I think what I found myself wanting to play when the band was around was really, really surprising to me,” he adds.
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Every performance was recorded, with the results influencing what the band preserved, honed, and ultimately abandoned. And for two weeks, the world outside Arctic Monkeys’ temporary studio was truly banished. When the band – made up of Turner, Cook, bassist Nick O’Malley and Matt Helders on drums – weren’t hiking the wilds of the Suffolk countryside together, they shared pints and watched England travel to the delayed Euro 2020 tournament from the pandemic played out. For two weeks, time seemed almost meaningless. The gang was finally back together.
, is as far from that memory as possible. We meet the frontman in an East London pub on a deceptively warm October afternoon, just over a year later, just as ‘The Car’ release week is getting underway. Almost unbelievably, the band’s 2009 hit “Crying Lightning” plays softly from the downstairs stereo, as if on cue. Considering Turner is about to settle down for a drink – or, ahem, English Breakfast tea – upstairs, whoever is responsible for the playlist this lunchtime is blissfully unaware that they’ve managed to tempt fate. Turner seems too busy tending to his little china teapot to notice, however.
Described as “a summary of the band’s story so far: sharp writing, relentless innovation, and unbreakable teamwork.” Under the supervision of ensemble director Bridget Samuels [
] at RAK Studios in London, is the first album on which the band has worked with a full orchestra, allowing Turner’s voice – which sounds more brooding and malleable than it’s ever been – to penetrate a cinematic landscape of strings , piano motifs and bass-bass rumbles.
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The elegiac opener “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball” immediately ups the ante. A breakup tune that silently agonizes over the fading sensations of fiddle and harpsichord, the album’s lead single was the first to be demoed at Butley Priory. “And imagine this: While I’m recording, I walk around with a 16mm camera which kind of keeps me away from everyone,” Turner says. Eventually he saved some of the footage for himself, and the rest was interspersed with the track’s understated retro video, creating a poignant time capsule of that particular recording session.
Crucially, the new album — with cover shot by Helders — features a more cohesive and collaborative band than the one we heard on 2018’s divisive “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.” burnished, but traded the tsunami of swagger, riffs and hair gel of its smash-hit predecessor – 2013’s award-winning “AM” – for pursuing lounge-pop. His writing credits reveal that most of the band were perhaps underutilized as performers, as O’Malley appears on only seven tracks and Helders’ drumming is largely contained.
The audacious centerpiece of “The Car,” “Body Paint,” turns the script upside down — you can practically hear Turner winking as he sings: “
”, before the swirling atmosphere and tumultuous bass from O’Malley give way to a stormy guitar solo from Cook. It’s the full bodied sound of Butley Priory’s journey, which was all about having fun and bringing that feeling to the new record.
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By launching into new and bolder sounds, the Arctic Monkeys emerged fearlessly, says Turner flatly. “The records we’re making now are definitely different than what we probably thought we were making when we started — in fact, we didn’t even think we’d be making records anymore,” Turner says. “20 years ago, we didn’t expect to go further…” He looks deep into his cup of tea as if he’s looking for the rest of her answer, as she takes a huge pause from which you fear she may never return. “Well, the fact that we gave ourselves the name ‘Arctic Monkeys’ alludes to the scale of the ambitions we had.” He stops again. “Clearly almost none.”
Yet the Arctic Monkeys’ friendship lasted, in part, because the band always knew when to say no. They built a fan base based on some early demos shared by fans via MySpace, and before the quartet signed with independent Domino Records – also home of Wet Leg and Hot Chip – they had already made a pact never to be agree to their music used in advertising. They even turned down a then coveted offer to appear
. Weeks later, their monstrous debut single ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ instantly shot to the top of the UK Singles Chart – no small feat for a band without major label money or mountains of press on their side. . They had created a precedent for following their own rules, and it had worked.
Stardom would soon prove inevitable: The band seemed perpetually in shock as they exploded as unassuming teenagers with their enduring and now seminal debut album, 2006’s “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.” dial 999, Richard Hawley’s been robbed!” Turner famously quipped, as the band, looking somewhere between a haze of drunkenness and feeling shaky, collected their Mercury Prize later that year. The following decade would see them evolve into the UK’s biggest and most culturally important band: they headlined Glastonbury twice, performed at the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony and, perhaps most importantly, remained consistent. , while their peers in sound have failed to maintain a similar longevity.
Arctic Monkeys Fluorescent Adolescent Alex Turner Indie
“When I think back to times gone by, I feel like we’re just running on instinct, creative decisions included,” Turner says, with a gentle laugh. “I mean, first of all, we didn’t really know how to play our instruments at the beginning. But other than that, I don’t think much has changed within the band; we might know a few more tricks, but we’re still following the same instinct.
For an hour of boyish and mischievous charm; his few concessions to age include a formal silk scarf with paisley motifs and a bit of stubble. A gold link chain is around her neck – a gift from her grandfather that she has been wearing everywhere since 2006 – and it glitters against the autumn sun. While answering questions, Turner often leans back in his chair and begins to reenact the scenes, giving it a real taste. No man so casually funny is an accident: behind it all hides a brilliant, astute and often funny songwriter.
Trying to discuss his lyrics—which, in ‘The Car’, are often unusually reflective—at the pub with Turner is a different matter, however, met mostly with some hesitant, but captivating musings on personal growth. Let’s briefly tackle ‘Hello You’, which plays with high drama and references Turner’s youth spent in north Sheffield – but like a major Hollywood production, what’s exciting in front of the camera is often pain behind the scenes. “
”, he sings at one point, only half joking. “A lot of this new music is scratching at the past and how much should I hold on to,” he says. “I think that song is nice on the nose…as uncomfortable as it may be.”
Fluorescent Adolescent Inspired Print Song Lyrics Poster
It’s when describing the luxuriously arranged instrumental sections of “The Car,” however, that one can sense that the cogs in Turner’s brain are starting to turn a little faster. “Around the last album, the big story was like, ‘Wow, it’s got a piano’, which was true up to a point, but now I’m wondering if that’s the thing I do now: record ideas as you go – that kept me going,” she says. His sudden arousal makes him squeeze