‘The Car’: Driving into the new Arctic Monkeys album

Casey Wiederhold , Contributing Writer

Illustration by (Amanda Riha)

The last time Arctic Monkeys drove alternative music fans crazy, it was 2018. The rock band made their return to music and released its seventh studio album “The Car” on Oct. 21, the same day as Taylor Swift’s tenth studio album “Midnights.” This brought some competition as to which album I would be listening to first, but naturally, I honored my alternative rock side and chose Arctic Monkeys.

I’ve been a fan of the U.K. band since its 2013 album “AM,” so I was excited to hear the new music they were putting out for the world. The popular band previously released singles “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” and “Do I Wanna Know?” quickly became some of my favorite songs. I’ll admit I had high expectations for “The Car” since their previous album “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” from 2018 was not at the top of my rankings.

After a second listen to “The Car,” I can advise on whether this album deserves a listen.

“The Car” opens with the lead single “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball” and I was not overwhelmed with joy hearing it. I already heard the single during its initial release, so I knew what it sounded like. By the time the album was released, I heard the song enough times to know that at first, I loved it, but then it got old after listening for a while. When the single was first released, I thought it fostered similar sounds to “Star Treatment” from “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.” The opening chords sound similar, but not in the sense that lead singer Alex Turner is sampling his own songs. This song would constitute a skip from me.

The next two songs “I Ain’t Where I Think I Am” and “Sculptures Of Anything Goes” could not be more different. “Sculptures Of Anything Goes” brings the listener back to 2013 when “AM” was released and Arctic Monkeys was solely focused on performing more alternative rock-styled music. I consider “I Ain’t Where I Think I Am” to be another skip of the album.

“Jet Skis On The Moat” takes on a more psychedelic approach. There are no resemblances to other Arctic Monkeys songs. It’s not a track that I would consider overlooking, though this song is better off becoming the backing track to a late-night study session.

The fifth track of the album, “Body Paint” is a steady-paced song. This is the second song to have string instruments as a larger part of the song’s musicality. I also enjoyed the guitar usage. This song was released prior to the album, and it was one that I had on repeat.

When Turner writes the music for his songs, most of the lyrics make sense. I cannot say the same for the title track, “The Car.” It’s very safe to say I will not be listening to this song. The song starts with acoustics, an aspect of music I highly enjoy. However, in this track, the song could have gone without it. It feels out of place on the album since it is the only track to be featured with what I would call a “woodsy” type of feeling.

The lyrics written by Turner for the next song “Big Ideas” made more sense. Most of the songs on this album feature string instruments, giving it an orchestral sound, far different from the usual rock that audiences heard in the past.

The eighth song titled “Hello You,” is similar to “Body Paint.” The phrase “hello you” is repeated four times, but it feels longer due to the musical breaks between the “hellos.” This is one of the longer tracks on the album and it shows. For starters, the track is the third longest on the album, running at four minutes and five seconds. The track itself is played at 169 beats per minute, which is considered to be a faster tempo. It’s ironic that something played so fast can sound and feel so slow. I felt tired after listening to “Hello You,” and I was ready to say goodbye.

“Mr Schwartz” is a song I did not expect to enjoy. The track sounds familiar in a way that reminds me of the Billie Eilish song “Billie Bossa Nova.” The track gives a feeling as though I want to get up and dance with someone.

The final track to the album “Perfect Sense” made perfect sense to be the last track. The song uses a larger build-up of string instruments throughout, as well as the drum set becomes gradually louder. The end of the song suddenly fades out as Turner sings the lyrics, “If that’s what it takes,” bringing the album to a close.

With the new album, I went in with high expectations and those expectations were not met. I loved listening to the album, but I prefer the older, more rock-sounding music. If you’re looking for something good for studying, I recommend this album. I found a few skips, mostly on songs that I expected to not enjoy. The album was worth the wait, but not worth picking over Taylor Swift.