In spite of the quality of its lyrics, which, unusually for an Arctic Monkeys song, are nothing to write home about, the fourth track on AM, “Arabella” instantly makes a listener sit up and take notice, especially if they’ve not yet heard the band’s new album. Hip-hop drums, whining synths or guitar, a short but effective riff, Black Sabbath-like chords, crashing drums: this track’s instrumental has just about everything except a killer bass line, strings, horns, and a gospel choir (at least two of which would look out of place).
The best thing about this song is its fusing of late ‘90s hip-hop and R&B with ‘70s hard rock, something which will surely make it hard to imitate. There are few tracks on the Arctic Monkeys’ new album that truly rock like some of their earlier material, but by the time it gets to the chorus, this one certainly does. Musical references to the likes of Sabbath or Zeppelin and the futurism of Dr Dre, combined with lyrical extracts like “Arabella’s got a ‘70s head, but she’s a modern lover…she’s made of outer space” make this a song for the future that also looks to music’s past for inspiration.
David J. Lownds