The bank holiday weekend saw Sheffield’s finest headline Reading & Leeds Festival, their first UK shows since the end of 2019’s Tranquility Base tour. The dust had barely settled from their enigmatic headline set before murmurings of a new single emerged online.
‘There’d Better Be A Mirrorball’ appears to pick up from where the band left us at the end of TBHC: a piano-led interlude kicks off the opening track of AM7, before the band begin proper. ‘Mirrorball’ is an Arctic Monkeys track that perfectly encapsulates the essence of this band – the lyrical content is much more “down to earth” than the space hotel stuff. Turner sounds remarkable as he sings softly about being an ‘old romantic fool’, the dust of four years falls away effortlessly.
The Alex Turner-directed video for ‘There’d Better Be a Mirrorball’.
‘Mirrorball’ revisits the lovesick, romantic overtones that were so prescient throughout Suck it and See, though the musical sense of the track is very much like Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, just without the overarching themes of anxiety and melancholia. Many of the cuts from TBHC capture a sense of dystopia and claustrophobia, a theme that runs through the lyrics too. Arctic Monkeys appear to have shaken off any misgivings about the sound because they are all in on ‘Mirrorball’.
Mirrorball’s arrangement is stellar too, Matt Helders continues to prove that he is the most versatile drummer going, his offbeat drum track and O’Malley’s understated bassline gives Turner the space to exercise his soaring vocals. Helders’ contributions of breaks and fills are so perfectly placed, and when the strings start to swell the track comes into its own. The new sound is cinematic and grandiose – a look that suits Arctic Monkeys down to the ground.
Piano-lead songwriting appears to be at the forefront once more, with Turner singing over loose piano parts – the sound is similar to that of Tranquility Base, but Monkeys have grown in confidence and their sheer quality as musicians allows them to carry off a sound and look that most bands could not dream of.
Photo credit: Zackery Michael