Following the rapid sell out of V Festival 2011 this very morning, it shouldn't have come as a suprise that Arctic Monkey were up to something. They haven't exactly been quiet about their plans for a fourth record, revealing that demo sessions started almost a year ago. But until today, fans were shrouded in secrecy about the nature of the music. Would album number four be a return to the lyrically triumphant days of Whatever People Say I Am? The catchiness of Favourite Worst Nightmare? (Likely, as James Ford is the producer again this time round), or the slowburner and slight intimidator that was Humbug? The answer my friends, is all three.
Today, at approximately 17: UK time, Arctic Monkey posted an ambiguous weblink on their social networking sites. One click revealed all: in all its glory a retro inspired video was revealed, entitled "Brick By Brick." We start in an eighties style living room, a girl in a floral dress placing a Vinyl marked Arctic Monkeys on the sleeve (along with the date , 2/9/11 - possible album release I think), and then the beat kicks in. Whilst it might take a few listens to decipher Alex's voice hidden under the voice of what I believe to be Matt Helders (dominating the vocals for the first time in Arctic Monkeys history), by the time you hit the chorus lead guitars are revealed that could be the work of no other band.
Already fans are criticising the simplicity of the lyrics, which do indeed revove quite basically around the "Brick by Brick" refrain.However, if Humbug taught us anything, it is that Arctic Monkey will not be returning to the intricate wordplay and rhymes that made them famous anytime soon. Instead we're getting metaphor, surf delay pedals and a reverbed vocal. Whilst we can still hear the influence of Humbug Producer Josh Homme in the guitars,the structure is utterly James Ford, a pop song with a harder, dirtier edge. As hinted on Humbug, Arctic Monkeys are finally outgrowing Indie and becoming a rock band, the kind worthy of such high profile festival headline slots as V. With the revivial of classic rock in bands such as Beady Eye and Kasabian, this may prove to be a wiser move than many anticipate.
All I know as a fan is that I find this slightly new direction incredibly exciting, especially considering the no fuss nature in which it was announced. I am not attending V Festival: but I will absolutely fascinated as to whether they will be brave enought to debut new material as they did at Reading Festival 2009, (which admittedly, fell flat on its face for everyone apart from me), or attempt the fan favourites of yore. If they're anything like the Arctic Monkeys I know, they'll go for the harder option, and good on them.Too many bands today are existing for commercial gain, and if continuing in a direction that may lose you some fans is the way you keep your artistic integrity, then some may argue it must be done. Somehow, I don't think Alex Turner was ever too worried about being famous anyway.