Arctic Monkeys’ the Car Shows the Band Continues to Change Lanes

Noah J.

The Arctic Monkeys seventh studio album, The Car, releases on the 21st of October. The band has headed back to the drawing board after the controversial Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, to produce a grounded yet still defiant sound.

The Arctic Monkeys have consistently been able to create elusive sounds on their new albums. Going all the way back to their second studio album, Favorite Worst Nightmare (2007), it’s been clear the Monkeys never like a rehash. The Car manages to continue that tradition, combining sounds from their old albums to create something new.

James Ford, longtime partner of the Arctic Monkeys, has produced all of their albums since Favorite Worst Nightmare, along with Alex Turner’s side project, The Last Shadow Puppets. Besides his work with Alex Turner, he’s produced for Florence + The Machine, Depeche Mode and Declan McKenna.

The influences on the album are diverse. The most prominent of which would be The Strokes and David Bowie. The Strokes are known for their alt-rock sound with a clean finish, as heard in Is This It (2001)  or The New Abnormal (2020) on songs such as ¨The Adults are Talking¨ or ¨Threat of Joy¨. And to compliment the polish of the Strokes is the synths and vocal inspiration of David Bowie, seen in The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1976) heard on songs like ¨Space Oddity¨ or ¨Rock and Roll Suicide¨. 

After Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino (2018) Alex Turner, frontman of the Arctic Monkeys, promised the album will come “back to earth” and return to the roughness developed by earlier albums while still keeping some of the production lessons learned on Tranquility Base.

More recent albums have stripped back the instrumentals, removing the drums almost entirely for Tranquility Base to accentuate Turner’s vocals. The Car continues this and puts Turner on full display. Not only on vocals, Turner also takes the lead on writing. Known for clever and personal lyrics, Turner’s influence will surely be evident on all of the tracks. This can be shown clearly now that the albums released on songs like ¨There Better Be a Mirrorball¨ or ¨I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am¨

Critics have been skeptical of the Arctic Monkeys ever since AM (2013), a departure from the garage punk of their earlier work. Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino continued to challenge people’s perspectives of the band and The Car doesn’t seem to stop this trend. Opinions on this album are sure to be mixed. 

Since the release of the album, opinions on the album were indeed mixed. With a sound turning back from Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, but not going back to Favorite Worst Nightmare or AM, many former fans have returned to listen to The Car. However this tenuous familiarity has not convinced past listeners of the Monkey´s, and the album remains controversial. Which perhaps, is exactly what the Arctic Monkey´s wanted.

If you want to make your own decisions on the band and the album, you can see them touring across 17 countries with 72 concerts, all viewable on their official website seen here. Alternatively, you can see their album now on Spotify  and available on vinyl at chain stores such as Barnes and Noble, along with Record Archive.