Review: Arctic Monkeys drive into a cinematic dreamscape
Open the door and step into the epic film reel of the Arctic Monkey’s dreamy journey, “The Car” — it’s quirky, expansive and deeply soulful.
The British alternative rock group is two decades into its career and has forged an oxymoronic edgy path forward in a self-assured, cinematic behemoth of a seventh album.
“The Car” shouldn’t work, but it does and it’s magic. It’s reminiscent of ‘70s neo-soul/funk but incorporates a grand orchestra that builds into a conflicting burst of release throughout the album. It feels like uneven textures clashing against each other. Still, it allows itself to be playful and ridiculous, primarily due to lead singer Alex Turner’s impeccable vocals and earnest but also sardonic lyrics.
The opening track, “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball,” introduces the album’s romantic and grand production with an upbeat but coy Arctic Monkeys sound. The 4-minute-long ballet builds like a movie soundtrack while Turner sings, “So if you wanna walk me to the car/You oughta know I’ll have a heavy heart./So can we please be absolutely sure/That there’s a mirrorball?”
The lead single, “Body Paint,” is a sultry examination of a lover’s potential infidelity. The song is soaked with longing and sadness as Turner sings, “If you’re thinking of me, I’m probably thinking of you.”
Each song on “The Car” is deeply romantic and intentionally grand. The heavy strings layered against soaring guitar solos from band member Jamie Cook on “Big Ideas” push the band’s new sound to unknown limits.
Heavy-hitting songs like “Sculptures of Anything Goes” sound like the dark, mysterious Arctic Monkeys that listeners are most familiar with on their 2013 smash hit album, “AM.” But don’t be fooled; the song builds and builds like a grandiose European noir spy thriller.
“Hello You” allows the band to have some romantic fun in a lounge-y ballad. Turner apologizes to a lover, “Hello you/Still dragging out a long goodbye?/I ought to apologize/For one of the last times.”
In a perfect conclusion to a larger-than-life album, “Perfect Sense” closes out “The Car” with a stunning, harmonic ballad that says goodnight to its listeners like a bedtime story or the peaceful resolution to a film.