Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Arctic Monkeys – Crying Lightning

Now the shadow puppets are extinct, it’s back to the day job…


Michaelangelo Matos: Let me guess: this plod is a sign that they’re “maturing,” right? Just like such lyrical pearls as the title — what is that, a metaphor? Just like “ice cream on a rainy afternoon,” right?

Iain Mew: Others would make a single reference to pick’n’mix and move on, but Alex Turner’s eye for detail leads him to pick at sweets evocatively for a whole verse. Bar a couple of choice phrases, it lets him down for the rest of the song, though, which doesn’t really go anywhere from there and is a bit of a lyrical muddle. The title phrase is particularly clunky. The Arctics still do a certain taut spikyness well enough to set them out from peers, but wasn’t what they were saying with it supposed to be the point?

Chuck Eddy: This song’s blank smug emoting of empty verbiage deluded about its cleverness exemplifies what I’ve hated about plenty of Brit pop ever since the ’80s (whether Brits would classify Arctic Monkeys as Brit-pop or not). It’d add up to nothing if not for some punk-funk itch to the guitars.

Matt Cibula: Too clever by half but so are we all, kind of P.C. Plod but defiantly so, redeemed fully by FILTHY guitar solo tone.

Anthony Miccio: I was glad when Alex Turner’s lyrics got more obtuse — made it easier to ignore his slagging of any anyone who dared to cross his eyeline — but that didn’t mean he should slow it down a little. Without the nervous energy that made people pay attention in the first place, we’re left with crotchety, “angular” wallpaper gussied up with Josh Homme’s favorite — and familiar — effects pedals.

Edward Okulicz: Half stiff-limbed, half psycho-movie backdrop, and the instrumental here deserves a bit better than the half-written song on top of it. This is a good pre-chorus wanting for a better chorus. Disappointingly sedate, too.

Jordan Sargent: They were best when they were scrappy instead of brawny, but one thing that’s been retained as the band has gotten darker and louder is Alex Turner’s ability to write hooks. The one here is relentless and propulsive, and it makes up for the fact that these guys seem to be losing a bit of their identity with each album. “Crying Lightning” just screams “produced by Josh Homme” -— and that’s even before the blown-out solo -— but maybe that means that we can call them the best alternative rock band in America.

Alex Macpherson: I’d avoided hearing a note of Arctic Monkeys’ music until now, as everything indicated that they were probably the worst band in the world. Those rock-bottom expectations have set the stage for both relief (they’re awful, obviously, but not so much I care either way – or maybe I’m just saving all my active hatred for La Roux these days) and smugness, in that I’d pretty much pinpointed in what way they’re awful. This dreary, grim Northern indie is exactly what I’d had in mind from them; they appear to be aiming vaguely at the Specials’ “Ghost Town” in a sort of… homage? Pastiche? Parody? Who even knows or cares, but talk about setting your sights low.

Alfred Soto: As someone who prefers Your Favorite Worst Nightmare to the overrated debut because it does what a really good second album should, I note that verbal hooks compete against musical ones: cafes by cracker factories, gobstoppers, and aggravating ice cream men all adduce Alex Turner’s febrile imagination. But when he stretches past the merely arresting image he just looks arrested – the “indignity of a reaction” and “occupying” a bench “like toothache” are phrases that no celebrated wordsmith should keep in the closet with the rhyming dictionary. Then again, “Brianstorm” wasn’t a great first single either.

Additional Scores

Jonathan Bradley: [3]
Hillary Brown: [4]
Martin Skidmore: [2]

12 Responses to “Arctic Monkeys – Crying Lightning”

  1. Lex, trust me, they are not setting their sights remotely as high as Ghost Town.

  2. Yeah, I don’t hear at all what this song has in common with “Ghosttown,” or why, if it did aim for “Ghosttown” (a great song obviously) that’d be setting sites low. (For what it’s worth, LA ska band the Aggrolites do likeable covers of both “Ghosttown” and Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie” alongside several other bands’ covers of ’80s new wave pop and novelty-punk songs on the otherwise also entertaining Endless Bummer soundtrack that just came out.)

  3. I was semi-trolling b/c I think “Ghost Town” sucks, yet it seems to be ::CANON:: for reasons unfathomable to me. This sucks in the same way – that grey dreariness, the failed spooky vibe of the cyclical melody (“melody’) failed “spooky” vibe, the limp singing.

  4. Have lex review indie music seems pointless. Has he ever given a male fronted indie band anything above a 4?

  5. Ha, it occurred to me the second I pressed “submit comment” that Lex might not be a “Ghosttown” lover. But honestly, this track is totally arhythmic, unambitious, lyrically pointless and vocally dead in comparison. I’ve never cared about “Ghosttown” being “Canon,” and I’m probably even less a fan of dreariness than Lex is (judging from some of the r&b and hip-hop dirges he falls for), but I like the Specials song because of how its stark beauty and use of dub space and Teutonic drama as well as its words really do get a sense of abanonded-neighborhood economic-downturn fighting-on-the-dancefloor desolateness across. (Do think you should check out Katy Perry’s hysteric cover of the Outfield’s “Your Love” on that Endless Bummer soundtrack I mentioned, though, Lex — you’ll love that!)

  6. I didn’t think the title was a metaphor, just an alternative to crying wolf. Not sure why that would bother the ice cream man so, though.

  7. Um although crying wolf is generally used as a metaphor so uh yeah

  8. i totally love this band and am not even remotely surprised that i was the highest score. still kinda wish they weren’t taking this route with their sound tho.

  9. I’m with you on this one, Jordan. Point taken about Josh Homme.

  10. the Homme-age, if you will.

  11. it’s apt that Josh Homme should come up b/c QOTSA are probably the last male-fronted guitar band I’m down with (nb no idea what they’ve done since…hmm, the Desert Sessions album w/PJ Harvey?)

  12. God I’d forgotten about Homme’s involvement w/this. Sad.