According to this random account on Twitter—whom we are taking as a bullet-proof source—Arctic Monkeys have commenced work on a new album. With this very welcome news, there is now one question on the lips of every rock’n’roll fan out there: what will the new Arctic Monkeys album sound like?
The band is nothing if not mercurial. By their sixth album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, fans and journos alike had all but given up trying to guess at their next direction. Nobody saw an album filled with piano-led lounge rock coming; nobody predicted the campy science-fiction, the tilted social commentary, the moon’s side-boob, the general tom-croonery of it all.
I’ll admit, after AM I personally was expecting something in the vicinity of Black Sabbath’s first record—all crunching guitars and stripped back, angsty vocals. But that’s Alex Turner for you: always three steps ahead, penning lyrics and riffs that confuse, elude, even disappoint upon a first listen—until enough time passes by and you listen with fresh ears, and you realise in a heartbeat that everything he was saying was true—he just clocked it so far off in the distance that to the rest of us it looked like nothing more than a mirage.
Mystery, suspense and misdirection have been a staple of Arctic Monkeys ever since the words ‘don’t believe the hype’ were croaked into a studio microphone. With that in mind, and the knowledge that we will absolutely, definitely, certainly be wrong—here are each of our predictions for the next Arctic Monkeys album!
Dan’s Prediction: Sexy Graveyard Ambience
Let’s take a look at the band’s current trajectory, album by album. In order, we’ve had: frenetic British garage punk; breakneck indie with a couple of ballads chucked in; grinding desert drug-rock; wilfully naïve hands-in-the-air choruses, leather-studded coke-dusted stadium fillers, and svelte casino-penthouse philosophising.
When we praise the band, we often focus on the thrashing drums and those sing-a-long ‘I shouldda thought of that!’ guitar riffs, however the most enduring element of Arctic Monkeys—the one that’s remained unchanged throughout their career—is Alex Turner’s love affair with lyrics. Wordplay, vivid imagery, and wry observation are his calling cards, so whatever genre they delve into next, it has to be one that allows for sultry lyrical shenanigans.
There’s also the sex factor to consider. The band has worked hard to cultivate an aloof, mythological image over the years. They lack any social media presence, and they’re difficult in interviews. Their rockstar personas are peaked, currently, and I’d be stunned if their next record didn’t work to maintain that untouchable quality.
The band never revisit previous sound twice either, and are constantly bringing in extra musicians. They draw inspiration from everywhere, too—literature, foreign cultures, characters they encounter and world events. The past year has been particularly chaotic and stifling, and this will no doubt have impacted any songwriter’s work.
With all of this taken into consideration?
I haven’t a clue.
If I had to guess though, I suppose I’d start with ruling out what it won’t be. No punk, no stadium rock, no lounge rock, no desert rock. No laddish anthems, no down-to-earth Mike Skinner-esque tales of relationship woe. It won’t be anything anybody’s done before, and they’ll damn near kill themselves to find what that is.
You know what? I think there’ll be spoken word on there. Abstract and cobwebbed and red-wine drunk. I reckon they’ll go all Serge Gainsberg; atmospheric, dark, slow-building tracks about orgasms and death, brooding along wittily before bursting without warning into full orchestral colour. Full brass section. Obscure looped samples. There’ll be a female voice featured on there alongside Alex’s, and a handful of rapid-fire verses at irregular, frustrating intervals, just to really drive home to fans of WPSIATWIN that, for this band, there’s no going back.
Either that or, like, Kpop? Fucked if I know.
Sam’s Prediction: Ghostly Sea Shanties
So, you’ve come to No Taste for answers about the future, ey? I’m not surprised! After all, we did pick 2020 to start a music blog in an attempt to get in Glastonbury. Let’s dig in.
It’s difficult to make a prediction on a band that go silent for years after every tour. They’re a busy band and fame comes last.
To draw any energy from the past year is going to be painful. Alex Turner wrote Tranquillity Base in isolation and you could tell. Poor Matt Helders went from forearm busting Brianstorm to the bum tiss’s of One Point Perspective. Essentially, if ‘r Alex can’t play it, it’s not going in.
However, since our news source got his news from someone who overheard Matt Helders saying they’re thinking of writing, I reckon we can hope for more of those funky beats that have been bottled up since AM.
They’re also gerrin’ older. And I’ll never know what you’re feeling at that age until I get there. Maybe that’s why you grow into their music. Alex Turner turned 35 on 6th January. Has lockdown made youth flash before his eyes and will album seven be the final blowout before they start releasing acoustic albums and greatest hits? Let me tell you.
Themes. Every album has had a theme. Humbug had that haunted fairground feel; AM being blotted into the AM; Tranquillity Base sees us in a smoking lounge on the moon – so where will number land us?
On a ship. A Vessel.
And it’s probably haunted. There’ll be a lot of strings that build suspense and drop us down into the troughs of fuzzy waters. We’ll tackle storms, we’ll float on calm waters, but one thing’s for sure, we’ll always be voyaging.
Suck it and See was clearly written during an optimistic summer. Imagine that same energy but they’re not optimistic and it’s winter. A gritty adventure that has no place on the auxiliary cord at a party, but taunts you and simultaneously hugs you when played alone.
Will it be controversial? Absolutely. But less so than Tranquillity Base. If the band are working together, it’ll sound more ‘Arctic Monkeys’.
“A beautiful haunting. Like hearing a piano from down a tunnel, but not being able to see the player.” – NME. I called it.
Tom’s Prediction: Jazz Bangers
Now, as my good pals will tell you, I’m not that musically inclined, but don’t get me wrong, I appreciate quality music as much as the next guy which is what the AM lads have never failed to produce. I don’t play instruments, it’s never really grasped my interest when it comes to fantasising about headlining the worlds biggest festivals and all that jazz. However, this leads me on nicely to my prediction: jazz. I reckon the new album will have an experimental flavour to it, we’ve all been locked down and had an infinite amount of time to ponder our creative capabilities and have a go at pushing our limits.
I reckon the Arctic Monkeys will have done exactly that, they’ve been there and done it as that rough edged rockers, and like a fine wine they’ve aged well with AM being their absolute peak of producing rock and roll. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino saw them venture out into the world of a more refined style of music that was easier on the ears (also a bloody good time for a piss break when living your best life at one of their gigs). They’ve now had time to go away, clear their minds and further themselves, what better opportunity do they now have to merge the two coolest genres of music on the planet, rock and roll with a hint of jazz. I think Alex Turner now has a chance to lay down the marker with some absolute bangers backed up by a symphony of brass orchestra.
I can see it now, the Arctic Monkeys gracing the stage at Glastonbury surrounded by the world’s finest jazz orchestra laying down a set that’ll go down in the history books. Jiminy cricket!