A drum machine opens the album on “Do I Wanna Know?”. Lanky riffs wrap around the snares as Turner croons through a thick accent: “I dreamt about you every night this week/ How many secrets can you keep?” He’s perpetually obsessed with young love — the throes and the broken hearts — though his lyrics are noticeably more evocative on AM, as compared to the more cynical Suck It and See. He’s beginning to value poetic imagery as much as wry turn-of-phrase. Still, Turner can weave a crooked love story filled with comedic one-liners. Such is the case on the album’s catchiest tune, “Why’d You Only Call When You’re High?”, which depicts a protagonist whose 3 a.m. phone calls to an estranged lover are rejected with the eponymous question. Turner holds a tight falsetto over a beat that sounds exactly like Dr. Dre’s “What’s the Difference”.
You can hear Alex Turner growing up on AM. He’s beginning to play a wiser medium in his love songs, his words expressing a vaster array of emotions as his headstrong male protagonists stumble from relationship to breakup to relationship. Perhaps these emotions were always evident in Turner’s lyricism and now they’re being emphasized by Arctic Monkeys’ newfound moodiness. Their music is suddenly sexier, no doubt a credit to Turner’s vision for AM, and continues to mature. Instead of pandering to listeners or indulging the idea of being the most popular in Britain, Arctic Monkeys follow Turner, and Turner follows his gut. Maybe that’s why they prevail.