Ah, 2014. ‘Twas the year that Pharrell started wearing those giant hats on red carpets, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin decided to ‘consciously uncouple,’ and How I Met Your Mother (finally!) finished airing.
More importantly, right after their 2014 AM Tour, it was the year that the Arctic Monkeys announced their formal hiatus.
After a killer performance at Tokyo’s Summer Sonic festival, the last show in a whirlwind of selling out international arenas and rushing from one festival to the next, drummer Matt Helders declared that “There isn't any rush to do something else yet. For now this album seems like a place to leave it for bit."
And so that was that. Everyone’s favorite post–teen angst rock band was off the grid. Frontman and songwriter Alex Turner went to work on his hell of a pet project, the English supergroup The Last Shadow Puppets, alongside Mini Mansion’s Zach Dawes, Simian’s James Ford, and The Rascal’s Miles Kane. Drummer Matt Helders worked on Iggy Pop’s latest studio effort, Post Pop Depression, with Dean Fertita and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. After four years, fans (myself included) began to reconcile with the fact that following Turner’s blossoming solo career was the next chapter.
That was, until last December. The Arctic Monkeys confirmed in December 2016 that they were beginning to work on a new studio album, beginning to record last September. And, through a series of now–deleted Facebook posts, both Turner and Helders—as well as the band’s official page—have hinted at a May drop.
So what can we expect from this new record?
Between Turner's and Helder's extracurricular recording efforts, it's clear that the band is starting to gear more towards the experimental, moving away from the classic Arctic Monkeys sound. AM signaled a departure from Turner’s trademark snarky, fast–paced and witty lyrics a lá “Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secure” or “Fluorescent Adolescent.” AM featured more ballads, with Turner still chronicling relationships and breakups but this time with a smooth croon to match the new, hip–hop influenced sound. This new album should even further explore new genres and influences, perhaps meshing their newfound groove with their psychedelic and post–punk roots into something we haven’t even heard yet. Ahead of the May drop, Alex Turner has hinted at some singles being released in the next few weeks.
Clearly anticipating their new album being a hit, the group is set to go on an international tour over the summer, hitting up the European festival circuit—the Monkeys are set to take the stage at Rockwave Festival in Athens, Les Nuits de Fourvière in France, and Osheaga to name a few—and coming into the US only for a quick bit to play Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Firefly before heading back across the pond.
With four years of anticipation on their shoulders, the pressure is high and the bar raised. It would be hard for any band to live up to the expectations, let alone a band with such a cult following and critical acclaim. And with such speculation over sound and release one thing is for sure: this album is about to (and better) be freaking killer.