Every couple of months, the British press finds a new band that will "save rock." In the summer, or maybe early autumn, of 2005, Arctic Monkeys saved rock, but on a scale unprecedented at that time, even by Oasis. Their first single, released on indie label Domino, debuted at the top of the U.K. pop charts. The last act to do that was manufactured girl-group Spice Girls, in 1996. So this band of 19-year-olds was forced to grow up in public, resulting in a couple of great albums and a couple of clunkers, documenting their "long hair/longer riffs" phase. On album number five, they've claimed intent on making a rock 'n' roll version of The Chronic. Now, that's a premise that reads a lot worse than deciding to be the English Queens of the Stone Age, which was likely the intent of enlisting Josh Homme to produce them during that "long" phase. While this doesn't exactly add up to Dr. Dre's masterpiece, AM is a great little record, using recycled funky T. Rex and Gary Glitter guitar lines and, um, recycled funky T. Rex and Gary Glitter drum beats.
Arctic Monkeys have always been rhythm-centric, especially in Alex Turner's hip-hop-inspired lyrics and delivery. The singles "Do I Wanna Know?" and "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?" work sinewy, glammy grooves juxtaposed against Turner's increasingly, um, sinewy, glammy vocals until the whole the album just encapsulates the feeling of a bad idea on a bad night on the town that seemed so good at the time and sounds wonderful, even the next day. Arctic Monkeys aren't saving rock this time around, just going into a slightly more mature and focused phase of their career.