As Alex Turner once said: “There is always that one band that comes along when you are 14 or 15-years-old that manages to hit you in just the right way and changes your whole perception on things.” He said that about the rattle around the ears that The Strokes first delivered when they changed the musical picture for millions of us with Is This It, but there is also a phase that comes before that, a time when you scarcely know why, but the allure of music begins to slowly beguile.
Often this first sonic come-hither finger wags from a particularly attractive record in your parent’s collection, and the Arctic Monkeys crooning frontman was no different. Turner’s father was a fellow music fiend, in fact, he taught music and physics for a living, but as Alex remarks, his dad was more likely to come down on the jazzier side of things rather than pop and rock. All that being said, there was one album that infiltrated every record collection of an entire generation regardless of your usual genre preference.
This ubiquitous joy-giving record was The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, and when Alex Turner was growing up, it proved to be a firm favourite of his. As he told Exclaim: “Why I suppose I got interested in music in the first place has to do with [Pet Sounds]. I’ve always believed there’s not much of a choice you have when you listen to that record. You’re forced to feel something — whether you’re a 32-year-old or a 6-year-old as I probably was when I first heard it.”
Later in an interview with Apple Music, the Sheffield songsmith once more espoused a love for Brian Wilson’s trailblazing masterpiece, remarking: “We’d listen to Pet Sounds in [my dad’s] car and I can remember sitting there and being quite moved by it.” Thus, it occupies a special place in Turner’s reverie set, and he is not alone in this regard. There is something in the mix in Pet Sounds that simply renders it a timeless piece of escapism.
This effect seems to have been branded on Turner’s songwriting sensibilities forevermore. As he says of his general music preferences: “I think of some of my favourite records as places that you can go for a while and hide away. I like this idea that [Tranquiility Base…] would be named after a place. That seemed to make sense to me — I can imagine it. It might seem sometimes like you’ve got this idea – ‘alright, it’s gonna be this’ – this concept of a thing that’s sort of pre-conceived, but it’s really just like one thing leads to another. It has a bit of a mind of its own it seems like when we write. I feel that way more than ever now.”
Years later, this would mutate into a passion for the aforementioned Strokes, who captured a musical moment of their own with the seminal Is This It. As Turner told NME: “I remember I used to play that first album in college all the time, when our band was first starting. Loads of people were into them, so loads of bands coming out sounded like them. And I remember consciously trying not to sound like The Strokes, deliberately taking bits out of songs that sounded too much like them, but I still loved that album.”
Later adding: “As much as they probably hate hearing this as well, they were the band that encouraged me to rip the knees of my jeans and write on them in marker pen. I wrote on them in red ink, ‘I’ve got soul and I’m superbad!’.” However, perhaps known of that charming denim-defacing would have been possible if it was for the flirt of Pet Sounds in the first place.