“The Car”: Arctic Monkeys Kick it Into High Gear


“The Car” is a mellow yet beautiful addition to the Arctic Monkeys’ discography. (courtesy of Twitter)

On Friday, Oct. 21, Arctic Monkeys fans breathed a sigh of relief with the release of the band’s seventh studio album in the form of “The Car.” The record comes four years after their previous LP, “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino,” an album that departed from their popular rock-forward sound and was met with mixed reviews as a result. “The Car” is a continuation of “Tranquility Base” in terms of its musical sound, mostly drawing inspiration from lounge music. The instrumentation of the album is centered around the piano and keyboard, which provide most of the chords and melodic accompaniment throughout. Arctic Monkeys have also enlisted the help of a string quartet, which adds a silky smooth texture to the poetic and elegant lyrics. The quality of the music itself is also something that should be mentioned. Alex Turner’s vocals are a main selling point, with him hitting some of the highest notes in any of their songs while sustaining a beautiful tone. The harmonies in “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am” are reminiscent of Harry Styles’ “Music For a Sushi Restaurant,” lush and full, and the strings give the whole experience a movie soundtrack-like quality.

However, “The Car” is the getaway vehicle helping Turner escape from the rock-forward sound that the band became tied to after the success of “AM.” Instead, he focuses his attention on vocals and piano, with rhythm guitar being minimal or even left out altogether in many of the songs. What is left for the guitar is simplistic chords and the occasional melodic line or short solo, as shown in the title track, “The Car.” We were also given one of the only songs featuring an acoustic guitar in “Mr Schwartz.” Matt Helders’ drums throughout are simple, sustaining a jazzy beat without much variation, unlike the maximalist rock style he has played in on previous records such as “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.”

As an enjoyer of Arctic Monkeys’ entire discography, “The Car” is definitely worth the listen. It is the perfect successor to “Tranquility Base” in that it is able to transport you to another world in a similar way. However, for those who were expecting the gritty guitars, screamable choruses and overall rock-and-roll feel of “AM,” you will be disappointed. It is evident that the band progressed in the way that they wanted to, outside of any outside opinions or demands. Turner even has moments of inward reflection about the progression of the band’s sound, which is displayed in the song “Big Ideas.” He states, “I had big ideas, the band were so excited, … but now the orchestra’s got us all surrounded,” nodding to the instrumentation featured in “The Car” and how different that is from their previous music. However, I think that there is a time and place for this album that should be noted and appreciated. If you are looking for an album to turn up to full volume and scream with your friends on a Friday night, you can take your pick from their earlier repertoire. But, for those days that I’m alone and thinking about how much times have changed, “The Car” is the soundtrack I’ll be driving to.