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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

‘The Car’ effortlessly parallel parks its way into the Arctic Monkeys’ discography

British band the Arctic Monkeys release their seventh studio album after four years, taking a unique direction from past indie rock ventures.
Album cover for “The Car” by Arctic Monkeys. (Photo courtesy of Domino).

It’s been four years since the release of the quirky, space ambient-infused album “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.” Lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Turner and the rest of the Arctic Monkeys are back with their seventh studio album, “The Car.” 

Unlike the fast-paced, high-energy pop-rock music of past Arctic Monkeys albums, “The Car” is a stylistic deviation similar to “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.” Their new project features a unique blend of orchestral instruments alongside the typical psychedelic elements of alternative rock. The usage of violins, guitars, drums, synthesizers, pianos and other strings amalgamates into a beautiful baroque rock album. 

The album opens with “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball,” a melancholy rock and classical ballad that sets the ambiance of what’s to come. Compared to other album openers such as “The View From the Afternoon” (2006), “Brianstorm” (2007) and “Do I Wanna Know?” (2013), this one isn’t as energetic. The lack of energy, however, doesn’t stop Turner from delivering the lyrical expertise he’s known for. Turner delivers his vocals in a high-pitched voice, another example of the band still trying new things. This song feels like the climax of a movie, where everything’s coming together, but it’s actually just the beginning of this 37-minute adventure.

The second track, “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am,” has a completely different atmosphere from the album’s opener. Turner plays with a “wah wah” envelope filter sound effect in the background as he compares the party he’s at to an island about to flood. The lyrics “Looks like the Riviera is coming into land / Early predictions would seem to suggest / I ain’t quite where I think I am” may be indicative of his mental state or his current romantic problems. Issues between Turner and his ex-girlfriend are a constant theme throughout the rest of the album.

The following track, “Sculptures of Anything Goes,” brings back the distorted sounds 2013’s album “AM” is characterized by. An array of sounds, including drum beats, electric guitar chords and the aforementioned distortion, mesh together perfectly throughout the song. This blending of sounds is brought into the following song “Jet Skies On The Moat” and is used in tandem with the summery mood of “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am.”

The fifth track, “Body Paint,” is one of the catchier songs on the album. I could definitely see my friends and I jamming out to this or attempting to sing it on a late-night drive. “Body Paint” incorporates violins excellently among the synthesizers and lyrics. This fusion is evidence of the band coming a long way from their first two albums, which could be described as a simpler genre of rock. The song perfectly comes together at the last minute, culminating with a mood reminiscent of a “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” song. The “body paint” that Turner mentions refers to the sad thoughts of his ending relationship. Likely talking to his ex, Turner states that there’s “still a trace of body paint / On your legs and on your arms and on your face,” while he is still “keeping on [his] costume.” Turner’s ex is already beginning to get over their breakup, while he’s still fully dressed in a costume of emotion. Like trying on a Halloween costume a few sizes too small, Turner cannot remove this uniform of regret.

The second half of the album starts with its titular track, “The Car.” There’s simply one piano note to kick off the track, but this piano note resonated with me throughout the whole song. The song sounds similar to “Indiana Jones” theme music. In other words, Turner is taking us on an adventure. It is even reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” in the way it slowly builds up. Towards the end of the song, the static, distorted guitar comes back, with piano notes sprinkled in every so often. The lyrics most memorable to me were definitely “Your grandfather’s guitar / Thinkin’ about how funny I must look / Tryin’ to adjust to what’s been there all along.”

“Big Ideas” uses a lot of strings in its development. With the lines “I had big ideas, the band were so excited / The kind you’d rather not share over the phone / But now the orchestra’s got us all surrounded / And I cannot for the life of me remember how they go,” one wonders if that is representative of this album and the grandiose change of pace from their other albums. Turner goes on to sing “The ballad of what could’ve been,” one of the most standout lines of the whole album. I can see this line being a sensitive subject for many listeners. 

“Hello You” has intriguing lyrics in a similar vein to past albums. It begins with “Lego Napoleon movie, written in noble gas-filled glass tubes.” In fact, it was revealed in an interview that the “Lego Napoleon” surprisingly refers to Turner’s love of “The Lego Batman Movie.” Interestingly, Turner has expressed a desire for director Stanley Kubrick to make a film about “Lego Napoleon” in a similar sense. The radiating feeling of Christmas music also sets this track apart from others. “Hello You” is followed by the ninth song, “Mr Schwartz.”

The Arctic Monkeys’ album closers have traditionally included some of their best work. In fact, past album closers “505” and “A Certain Romance” are the two songs that first brought me into the band. The closer on “The Car,” titled “Perfect Sense,” undoubtedly lives up to the expectation. “Perfect Sense” has grandeur, even compared to the Arctic Monkeys’ entire discography. Turner has perfected the utilization of violins and his somber lyricism in this final song. “A four-figure sum on a hotel notepad / A revelation or your money back” can be interpreted in many ways and is a great send-off for the album. As the title implies, the relationship troubles he’s been having finally make “perfect sense” to him in this hotel room.

Due to the absence of many drums and heavy implementation of guitar throughout the track list, this album seems to solidify that the Arctic Monkeys have strayed away from the type of music that first brought them to the top of the UK charts. Though “The Car” is almost a complete deviation from the direction of their past albums, Turner and the rest of the band have still delivered the quirky music and unique direction that they’re known for, just as “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” did. With a multitude of concerts and potential music videos on the horizon, it’s clear that the Arctic Monkeys have returned to their indie rock throne.

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About the Contributor
Aiden Salk
Aiden Salk, Former Staff Writer
Aiden Salk ('26) is majoring in neuroscience and minoring in Spanish in the College of Arts and Science. He is from Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. Apart from The Hustler, Aiden loves learning foreign languages, exploring new music and is always open for a game of tennis or ping pong. Aiden can be reached at [email protected]
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