When a band departs from the sound for which they’ve come to be known, the results are usually unpleasant. Too often, that departure signifies a creative stagnation within the band- rather than find new ways to make music the way they always have, some bands opt to go in a new direction; unfortunately, this new and unfamiliar territory frequently leads to missteps in the music.
Arctic Monkeys are the rare exception to this rule, and “Crying Lightning” is a perfect example of their ability to excel in the face of the unknown. Though Arctic Monkeys are largely known for their upbeat, Britpop style of music, “Crying Lightning” is nothing like they’d done in the past. It’s somber, without the heavy, dreary tone of, say, Queens of the Stone Age (ironically enough, since QOTSA frontman Josh Homme produced the album). Alex Turner’s voice and Matt Helders’ drumming have a lot to do with that- Turner’s higher-pitched voice, coupled with Helders’ frenetic timekeeping, rescue the song from becoming too weighed down. At first, I was none too excited about Josh Homme producing the album; nothing against him, but his songs tend to have a depressing undertone and I was sure he would drag one of the more lighthearted bands out there today down. Suffice to say, I was way off-base on this one.
In the end, “Crying Lightning” is not your typical Arctic Monkeys song. But in this case, the break from the norm is exactly what they needed.
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