Arctic Monkeys’ The Car album: Writer’s review


Domino Recording Company

On Oct. 21, the Arctic Monkeys made their long-awaited return to the music scene with their seventh studio album, The Car. While the band’s attempt to stay true to the music they want to create is admirable, The Car simply has missing elements that make most of the album, aside from a few exceptions, uncomfortable to listen to.

The band, which formed in 2002, returns after a four-year silent period following the 2018 release of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. The Car continues the softer and more experimental sound, described as “lounge-pop,” that began with the 2018 album, a style in stark contrast to the band’s early 2000s alternative rock. 

The Car was recorded in a fairytale-like wedding venue in England, creating a magical element successfully communicated through excellent production quality in each song on the album. However, the vocals do not convey the same “magic” that the instruments do.

While Turner is undoubtedly talented, his voice may be better geared towards the indie and alternative rock genres rather than experimental jazz. Several songs fall short on vocals, including “Body Paint,” which unfortunately misses the mark. While the song’s last minute does highlight a catchy guitar solo, Turner’s voice does not fit the overall sound. 

The Arctic Monkeys do deserve recognition for remaining authentic, untainted by the pressures of fans who prefer their older sound, and are reasonably successful in a few songs. For instance, the swell in the music towards the end of “Hello You,” which includes an entertaining selection of riffs combining rock, pop and classical, amplifies Turner’s performance as well as the overall quality of the album.

However, the true redeemer of the album is Turner’s signature talent for eloquently romantic lyrics that touch the listener, most noticeable in “Sculpture of Anything Goes” and “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball.” Lyrics like, “The disco strobes in the stumbling blocks” in “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am” provide a sense of groove previously unachieved by the band.

The Arctic Monkeys have made it clear that they do not intend to go back to their old sound. However, they do pay homage to certain aspects of previous works, whether intentional or not. For example, “Mr. Schwartz” includes lyrics, “And smudgin’ dubbin’ on your dancin’ shoes,” which some fans have speculated is a reference to their 2006 song “Dancing Shoes.” 

In a sense, the album invokes a mourning of past Arctic Monkeys work as the group rebrands its musical identity, but they should perhaps stick to what has worked best for them in the past.