Let's get something straight. First and foremost, 'The View from the Afternoon' is quite easily, one of the finest singles of the year. Brash, in-yer-face and an air drummer's dream. Despite the intro aping Supergrass' 'Richard IIIrd', it's forgiven by way of having the single best pop hook of the year. I'd defy anyone not to be roped in when Alex Turner sings, "and you won't be surprised," as if his whole life and career depends upon it. To be perfectly honest, after somewhere between 40-50 repeated listens, I can safely state that 'The View from the Afternoon' is a near-perfect nugget of musical glory and if the band had chosen to release it as a straight-up single, they'd have been forcing me to push a 9 or a 10 into the bottom of this review.
Things can never be that simple with the Arctic Monkeys though.
The four tracks that follow vary from the boring to the dire, scraping the barrel of their Northern pomp and committing 15 minutes to tape that most other bands would have binned as soon as they saw the reaction on the faces of their label.
'Cigarette Smoker Fiona' is a limp, lifeless second edition of the opening track, replete with lacklustre lyricism and a half-assed guitar widdle throughout proceedings. Worryingly though, it does get worse.
The introverted nature of 'Despair in the Departure Lounge' and 'No Buses' leaves me feeling cold and shut out, like someone (or of course, the nation as a collective hype machine) has ripped the soul out of this band and left them unable to hit home like they could all of... six months ago.
This isn't the 'start of the backlash', but it is cause for concern. The reluctantly-monikered 'band of the people' will have their crown stolen sooner than all could have imagined if their output remains this unimaginative. I'm choosing to ignore the closing title track, simply because this kind of self-referential post-modernism would make me disregard the entire output of the band if I took it seriously.
Just go and listen to 'The View from the Afternoon' on repeat.
4Colin Roberts's Score