1. It is almost certainly their finest work.
It’s not even overdramatic to say that. Yes, it’s probably even better than their first one. But it’s almost completely the opposite to the scrappy young scamps who made that incredible debut.
2. It has Josh Homme on it.
The Queens Of The Stone Age frontman and longtime ally sings on the tracks “One For The Road” and “Knee Socks”.
3. And he says it is a “modern, sexy dancefloor record”.
“It’s a really cool, sexy after-midnight record. It’s called “AM” so I guess that’s really obvious. And it’s really good. It’s not disco as such but it’s a modern, sexy, dancefloor record.”
4. This description from Alex Turner to NME should make no sense, but when you hear the thing, it does.
“It sounds like a Dr Dre beat, but we’ve given it an Ike Turner bowl cut and then we’ve sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster.”
5. They’ve caught the funk.
The record sees the band mainly in their low-slung crooner mode, slung back not into the woozy hazes of their desert experiments, but playing with funk licks as tightly-wound as a mattress, which is a very difficult thing to do for a guitar band, especially if you want to still end up sounding like a guitar band.
6. They call it ‘Girlfriend Music’ – “the music our girlfriends were listening to at school when we were into Dr Dre”.
“With someone like Aaliyah said Alex, “what’s sometimes seen as being cheesy is actually a real coolness about the melodies, and we wanted to get a bit of the way that music moves into what we were doing. That also went hand in hand - in our minds at least.”
7. The first signs of this direction came with last year’s single “R U Mine?”
8. And it really came together with “Do I Wanna Know?” from this year.
9. The intro to that song was created using the band’s actual bodies.
The beat was created from a digitally treated bunch of handclaps and kneeslaps.bq. “We wanted to come up with a different kind of clap. And the way Tchad Blake mixed it makes it sound like someone banging their head against a sci-fi force-field.”
10. It is suave. So incredibly suave.
11. Lyrically, Alex seems quite concerned with sex and space.
“Arabella’s got some interstellar painted-skin boots, and I helter-skelter round her finger and I ride it endlessly / She’s got a Barbarella silver swimsuit, and when she needs to shelter from reality she takes a dip inside my dreams.”
“She’s a silver lining lone ranger riding through an open space in my mind.”
“R U Mine?”
12. And anything that references Barbarella is usually brilliant.
13. There are sexy Bee Gee style backing vocals from a duo called The Space Cowboys.
These are, in fact, rhythm section, drummer Matt Helders and bassist Nick O’Malley, but as a vocal duo they’re all over the record, smearing it with smoulder and aural aphrodisiac.
14. The probable highlight of the record is the breakdown towards the end of “Knee Socks” where they sing this.
“You and me could’ve been each had a half of a King And Queen Seat, like the beginning of Mean Streets you could be my baby.”
15. Anything that references King And Queen seat motorbikes is also pretty cool.
As is Martin Scorcese’s Mean Streets for that matter.
Josh also sings on that bit as well.
16. The current single is all about late-night hook ups.
But “AM” is a confident enough record to have a single released from it that isn’t even the fifth-best song on the record. They’ve always had a tendency for doing that. But if you’ve not watched the surrealist video yet then you really should.
17. The final song has a John Cooper-Clarke poem for its lyrics.
The punk poet, a longtime friend and favourite of Alex Turner, sees his seminal early-80s romance rant slowed down into a gorgeous, shimmering slow-jam. John Cooper-Clarke has always been a great many brilliant things, but sexy has not usually been one of them. Yet that is achieved here too.
18. Among others, Alex gave this reason for using the AM soundwave for the album art.
“It kind of looks like a bra.”