Arctic Monkeys, ‘Crying Lightning’

Arctic Monkeys

They’re men now. They brood. They grow their hair. They sport beards. They make records with ginger gorilla Josh Homme. It’s a patina of manliness, though, with Alex Turner still whippet-thin, still a bit too Sheffield to be proper muscular rock’n’roll. ‘Crying Lightning’ seems a bit deeper, a bit less eager to let go and indulge in childish things, but then Turner goes and ruins it all with a reference to “pick’n’mix”. It doesn’t sound like an honest hiccup of salt-of-the-earthiness. It sounds like a sop to those who suspect they might be about to go all Hollywood. It sounds Peter Kay.

There’s a grower here all the same and a meatiness that neatly disguises the lack of – let’s face it, chaps – a song. They’ve always had that gift. Whether it’ll keep on giving, album after album, well, we’ll see. At least they’re only starting to look like Kings Of Leon, rather than buffing, polishing and dowdying up their music to sound like them too.

Cheerily bursting the Monkeys’ oh-so-serious bubble, Junior giggles at their name. “Is the monkey singing now?” “Do they dress up?” “I liked the first bit but I didn’t like the last bit.” That last remark’s obviously a withering comment on the transience of pop favour. You can search for the pick’n’mix all you like, Alex; it’s gone.

Everybody Wang Chung tonight:

[9] Kings Of Leon, ‘The Bucket’

Kings Of Leon

How did these Southern varmints become the biggest band in the world (hell, near enough)? That was going to be rhetorical, but I’m saying – by taking their rough-edged, tighter-than-a-Liverpool-winning-margin, down-home rock and polishing away any abrasive corners, ditching the concise for the flabby and bunging in as many leadfooted power chords as a song can take without collapsing under a stadium-weight of tedium. And that’s an improvement, is it, record-buying public?

OK, ‘The Bucket’ is a sly step in that direction, but back in 2004 the good ol’ boys still had a few tricks: some speedy military drumming, a cheeky riff, a “woo” to announce their second-album return and some crazy guff about a “Japanese scream”. It’s just so much more interesting than ohhhhh-ohh-ohhh this sex is on fire. Nonsense shouldn’t be meaningful (man).

These are fine margins, of course, and Junior wasn’t having any of it. No matter how bang-on-the-beat her dad’s air-drumming was, she was in a big sulk and it was entrenched. I reckon girls prefer later Leon anyway. This is based on a straw poll of her mum.

I’ll swing my legs: