‘The Car’ is uniquely masterful

Arctic Monkeys shift genres to orchestral rock with newest album

Fair use from Domino Recording Company

Fair use from Domino Recording Company

Modesty Manion

Arctic Monkeys, the classic indie band, has done it again with their newest album, “The Car.” Their seventh studio album and first original release in nearly four years, “The Car” has been highly anticipated by fans both in the UK and here in the States. 

Interestingly, “The Car” seems to exhibit a new side of Alex Turner’s creativity. Each song sounds very carefully and methodically composed, contrasting greatly from the band’s past works, although similar to 2018’s “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.” Rather than the fast-paced, surface-level garage rock songs of albums such as “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” and “AM,” Turner has masterfully created a collection of more complex, psychedelic songs. Although fans of the band’s previous work may be a bit disappointed by this shift, I look at it more as artistic growth than a change of sound. 

Even with this difference, there are still hints of classic Arctic Monkeys flair scattered across “The Car.” Turner’s distinct voice makes it obvious who the album is by, and his and Jamie Cook’s stylistic guitar reminds listeners of the band’s origins in the alternative genre. One very noticeable dissimilarity of the album is the prominent violin featured in every song. Although I loved it, I was not expecting it at all. The utilization of string instruments made “The Car” sound less like an indie album and more like the soundtrack of an indie film. Specifically, in songs such as “Body Paint” and “Hello You,” the violin mixed with Turner’s vocals, piano and the other effects  tell a story full of emotion and meaning, with hints of early Arctic Monkeys angst. Surprisingly, in “Perfect Sense,” these features combined with the acoustic guitar and an interesting drumming style to make a song reminiscent of a “Pet Sounds”-era Beach Boys.

By far, my favorite song on the album is “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball.” Despite the melody being slightly repetitive, the melancholic feel makes that aspect unimportant. In “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball,” Turner uses the metaphor of a party to represent his relationship, where the ending of the relationship is the equivalent of leaving the party. He uses imagery of dancing with someone, so when he says, “So if you wanna walk me to the car, you oughta know I’ll have a heavy heart,” it implies that it’s probably his last dance with this person. Throughout the song, he repeats the sentiment, “So can we please be absolutely sure that there’s a mirrorball for me?” In this way, Turner is hoping for some glimmer of brightness or jubilance in store for him after parting ways with his partner — he’s hoping that there’s a mirrorball waiting for him. I found Turner’s use of the mirrorball metaphor very interesting, especially in contrast to Taylor Swift’s use of it in her song “mirrorball.”

Although I loved the meticulous orchestration of “The Car,” it is a lot more low-key and repetitive than what I was expecting. It’s crazy to think that Arctic Monkeys can go from such lively songs like “Fluorescent Adolescent” and “505” to the mellow, melancholic sounds of “Jet Skis On The Moat” and “Mr Schwartz.” Overall, though, “The Car” is a decisive step in a new direction for Arctic Monkeys, and I’m here for it. 

“The Car:” ★★★★★