‘AM’, the latest release by the Arctic Monkeys, caused quite a stir upon its September release. Nominated for the Mercury Prize despite the shortlist only being revealed two days after its official release, the album marks not only a change in style for the band, but also a departure from the ‘four lads in a room’ approach to their previous records.
This is evident on their most recent single ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’. The drum beat and bass line combo are the closest the Monkeys have come to hip-hop, while Helders and O’Malley provide R&B style falsetto vocals that would have felt out of place on any of the band’s previous efforts, but serve to balance out the darker sound on ‘…High?’ to eargasm-ly good effect. Alex Turner gives us a silky rendition of a failed drunken attempt to rendezvous with an unnamed girl. His signature wit has not left him; lines such as ‘Somewhere darker, talking the same shite’ harking back to his observational take on British nightlife on the band’s debut release.
After two verse-chorus phases filled with distant pizzicato guitars and, as Turner describes it, ‘a hip-hop beat that’d be boss in your car’, the song gives way to a fuller, more expansive sing-along outro that Arctic Monkeys fans may be slightly more familiar with.
The music video for this mini-masterpiece provides Alex Turner with his first piece of real ‘acting’. Leaving a bar in the early hours, an intoxicated Turner wanders the streets of what appears to be somewhere in London (not Sunset Strip as you may have expected) in search of a girl known only as Stephanie. Sexually explicit hallucinations and disappointment ensue as he ends up at the wrong house. The keen-eared of you will notice previous Arctic Monkeys single ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ playing in the bar where it all begins. Warning: this music video may leave viewers feeling envious of: a) Alex Turner’s exquisite cheekbones (the reason why we can forgive him of some dodgy acting) and b) of the fact he has found a bar that plays Arctic Monkeys and is still open at 3:30.
Reaching number eight in the UK charts, the track became the Sheffield outfit’s first top 10 single since their 2007 indie anthem ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’. Given its radio-friendly melodies, not to mention length, clocking in at under 3 minutes, it is not surprising that ‘…High?’ has become one of the Arctic Monkey’s most popular songs.
By Alex Orosa