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New Arctic Monkeys music is better than old Arctic Monkeys music: An opinion

I stress ‘an opinion’. It’s an opinion.


A Vision:

Alex Turner steps forward, akin to Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark in the first Iron Man film, to the podium. It has been five years since his infamous speech at the BRIT Awards, not where he announced that he was Iron Man, but where he dropped the microphone and talked indistinguishable nonsense in an indistinguishable accent, like every person in every smoking area across the UK, dropping their phones and talking indistinguishable nonsense in an indistinguishable accent.

Alex Turner takes the microphone, gasps ring out across the room full of journalists. Will he drop it? they wonder. What is that beard he’s grown? they muse. Alex Turner takes a deep breath. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he croons, “I have an announcement”. Everyone in the room subconsciously shuffles forward to the edge of the seats. What could the announcement be? is the groupthink.

“Dan Burns thinks our new stuff is better than our old stuff”.

*******

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There is one thing we can all agree on when it comes to Sheffield superstars Arctic Monkeys, and that is that they are a pretty good band. Or maybe we can’t agree, maybe you hate them, I don't know. Like, they’re not the greatest thing in the world because that is of course reduced food, but in music circles, they’re pretty darn good. I don’t want to get too enthusiastic about them or anything because, as we all know, it’s uncool to care about anything and apparently it’s better to write about what you don’t like rather than what you do like, but I’ll try and look at them with sanguine eyes for the purpose of this content.

Here is my opinion on this matter – newer Arctic Monkeys releases are better than old Arctic Monkeys releases. For clarity, old Arctic Monkeys includes Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Favourite Worst Nightmare – everything pre-Humbug, essentially; newer releases cover Humbug onwards to their most recent attempt, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino. My view on this contentious topic – I think, I believe, I know, that recent Arctic Monkeys music is better than their older music.

I like all of their music, don’t get me wrong, but if I shuffled their whole back catalogue (my go to playlist for pretty much every event, because parties with me are terrible. Like, just don’t pass me the aux cord), I would be much more likely to skip older songs than newer songs. I prefer ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ to ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’, I prefer the soft lull of ‘Love is a Laserquest’ to the soft lull of ‘Riot Van’, I think Humbug is there best album to date.

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Lyrically, Alex Turner has gotten so much more interesting and diverse, almost poetic, writing about everything from go-karts on ‘Potion Approaching’, the Moon on ‘Four Out of Five’, to knee socks on ‘Knee Socks’. Leonard Cohen was famously a poet before he became a singer-songwriter, perhaps Alex Turner will do the opposite and pursue a career in poetry when the hype around his outfit, credited with being the first band promoted through social media, dies down. If you include his lyrical turns with Miles Kane on their work for The Last Shadow Puppets croon-machine, he’s written about B-Movie horror tropes and a tryst in the woods, or his producer skills on Alexandria Savior’s debut album Belladonna of Sadness, his lyricism seems to know no bounds.

Now, compare this to older AM lyrics. Witty, yes. Interesting, not so much. Observing the sights of a night out in Sheffield is clever and a good basis for an album, I mean they’re a great basis for Tab articles too (PLUG: The Tab are always looking for new writers), but in contrast with the psychedelic, nonsensical lyrics of ‘Library Pictures’, or even the adapted lyrics of John Copper Clarke on ‘I Wanna Be Yours’, the older songs just don’t match up in terms of scale or scope. More meaning can be derived from the lyric “I saw your sister in the cornerstone // on the phone to the middle man” than there can from “I’d still take you home”. But then maybe that’s just my BA English Literature degree talking.

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Their style has evolved on every album, a tough but ultimately successful risk taken to ensure they never get boring (yeah that’s right, I’m looking at you Catfish and the Bottlemen). When I say I prefer their newer music I don’t mean to say that the older releases are the worst things I’ve ever heard. No, it just means I prefer the style and tone of their latest releases to the indie-disco, thrash the guitar as fast you can style on their debut and early work. I much prefer crooning, riff-based Arctic Monkeys to teenage upstart, cans in the park Arctic Monkeys, but that’s just my opinion. I also like Harry Styles, so I may be totally wrong here. I mean, it’s not like I’ve taken the minus offer on The Chase or anything.

Maybe it’s all down to personal taste. Maybe all of this is worthless as we drift ever closer to death, maybe what you listen to just doesn’t matter. Listen to whatever makes you happy, produce whatever makes you happy, create whatever makes you happy. If Kanye West can put out a song with the lyrics:

“Poopy-di scoop

Scoop-diddy-whoop

Whoop-di-scoop-di-poop

Poop-di-scoopty

Scoopty-whoop

Whoopity-scoop, whoop-poop

Poop-diddy, whoop-scoop

Poop, poop

Scoop-diddy-whoop

Whoop-diddy-scoop

Whoop-diddy-scoop, poop”

:and still be called a visionary then you know what, it really doesn’t matter whether you prefer new Arctic Monkeys to old Arctic Monkeys. Just please don’t call them ‘The Arctic Monkeys’ are some shit like that. Thank you for reading.