Another brick in the wall.
Four days ago, the indie world was sent into frenzy as the Arctic Monkeys released a seemingly finished new song on their website, with a vintage 1970s video to accompany the surprise track. The frenzy wasn't perhaps on the scale generated by Radiohead's shock album release 'The King of Limbs' but the song's ambiguity (Is it a single? is it a B side? An album track? An improvised jam?) certainly drew much debate from their fan base and the rest of the music community.
Whatever it is, it is clear that Alex Turner, the formerly gritty street poet, and his young band are continuing to mature musically. 'Brick by Brick' is a song very much in the spirit of the band's previous album 'Humbug'. It boasts sparse bass interjections, tight drumming and violent, bluesy guitar shreds that wouldn't be out of place on a Queens of the Stone Age album. It is indeed a bold move from the band to leave behind their roots and further challenge themselves musically and sonically. 'Brick by Brick' is a song that features a gorgeous vocal harmonies courtesy of Messrs Helders, Cook and O'Malley that indulge the track's '70s sun-drenched vibe, the doubtless influence of America on four English Northerners, and what a sound it is too. It is fearless, competent and produced with such confidence that they sound a different band to one that sang about 'mardy bums', 'knackered converse' and 't-shirt and tie combinations'. Yet, the band can't be accused of selling out, it's simple musical progression, it's not in a creative nature to replicate the same thing over and over again.
And then there's the lyrics. Alex Turner has always been revered as the voice of a generation. The Monkeys' songs are not what they are without his sharp, witty and world-weary observations of life and society yet here, they seem consideringly less scathing and thoughtful. Is this a problem? Well, it's contentious. For an individual track, they hardly seem to grab you like Turner's astonishing wordplay usually would. Yet, can't you give the guy a day off for one song? The lyrics or the few words that do appear in the song are hardly appalling 'I wanna build you up, brick by brick/I wanna knock you down, brick by brick', they're cool, they sound suave, they're sexy. This writer would bet you anything that Turner hasn't lost his lyrical flair overnight; proper judgement will come from the release of a full album and the lyrics that follow.
'Brick by Brick' is a track that shows where the Monkeys feel they are now. They're experimenting and toying with new ideas of music, losing themselves in the process. So the lyrics aren't up to scratch, so what? It sounds ace. It sounds new and fresh. As every Arctic Monkeys record does. I can't wait for my next hit.