It seems like Alex Turner puts on a costume for each new Arctic Monkeys album. It’s what makes them sound like a fresh, exciting band each time. My favorite version of Turner is the “I am a rock star, I swear” one that appears on their 2013 indie blockbuster AM.
By this point, Turner has earned his rock star credibility, and yet, even with all the hair gel involved, it still feels like he’s hiding behind his persona. The album’s three biggest hits—“Do I Wanna Know?,” “R U Mine?” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”—end in question marks, pointing to Turner’s uncertainty around being a rock star.
The music speaks for itself though. With song after song, the album begs you to buy that leather jacket and walk down the street with a certain kind of swagger.
“Arabella,” my favorite track, is a classic love song where Turner uses his unique gift for lyrics to compare her to a sunset: “The horizon tries, but it’s just not as kind on the eyes as Arabella.” Toward the end of the song, the steady pace of the record picks up as the lyrics get more frantic and the guitar solo comes in.
More than ever, the band sounds ready to leave indie rock behind to join their classic rock heroes, with “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” looming as one of the truest rock songs of the 2010s.
If you’re questioning your own rock star status, turn on AM and you’ll find it.