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CD review: Arctic Monkeys’ ‘AM’

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Four stars

Arctic Monkeys AM

Mention Arctic Monkeys to the average American music fan, and they’ll likely recall the feisty, shaggy-haired British kids who blew up in the mid-’00s with frenetic dance-punk hits. Though the band has enjoyed demigod status across the pond since then, American audiences have never seemed to get what all the hype is about. Consider AM, the quartet’s fifth studio album, a reintroduction. The record highlights the group’s maturation from buzz band to great band with a pummeling 12-song onslaught of R&B-soaked hard rock that leaves no fat to trim.

Drummer Matt Helders and bassist Nick O'Malley drive tunes like “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” with voluptuous rhythms that stick in your head long after the song is over. Frontman Alex Turner, meanwhile, continues to deliver the clever, incisive lyrics that initially popularized the band while showcasing his developed talent as a singer (listen to his velvety purr on “Do I Wanna Know?” and it’s hard to imagine that’s the same kid yelping on their 2005 breakout single, “I Bet You Look On The Dance Floor”). Turner's knack for elegant balladry, which turned heads on 2011’s Suck It And See, carries over into AM, with songs like the mordant “No. 1 Party Anthem” helping break up the muscular guitar rock without slowing the record's momentum. Five albums into Arctic Monkeys’ career, AM is the sound of a band that knows exactly what it wants to be -- and we have a feeling they're only just getting started.

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