Track Review: There’d Better Be A Mirrorball // Arctic Monkeys

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“That rock ‘n’ roll eh? That rock ‘n’ roll, it just won’t go away.” The infamous words delivered by Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner at the 2014 Brit Awards may have lost weight for some long standing fans of the band following their change of artistic direction away from their typical indie rock on 2019’s space-age jazz opera Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. However, with their latest single release ‘There’d Better Be A Mirrorball’, Arctic Monkeys double down on the loungeroom sound, defying criticism to prove that the one thing that truly “won’t go away” is the Sheffield four-piece’s talent and ability to write an outstanding piece of music, no matter the genre.

The track is the lead single and opener to The Car, the band’s seventh studio album – and first in four years – due for release on 21 October 2022. Like the numbers on the preceding album, ‘There’d Better Be A Mirrorball’ is musically centred around Turner’s new instrument of choice, the piano. An atmospheric introduction accompanied by strings gives way to the main tune’s short, stabbed, staggering chords; the space around these filled in by Matt Helder’s gently swung drums, Nick O’Malley’s muted bass, and what sounds like a mellotron, continuing and spotlighting a real retro 60s feel to Arctic Monkeys’ new sound.

While the sound of ‘Tranquility Base’ persists on the track, there’s no lunar taquerias or front-flipping monster trucks to be found in Turner’s lyrics. A more grounded approach to songwriting is found here, with the narrative simply following a relationship’s break-up – this simplicity allows both the frontman’s poetic talent and his voice’s emotional range to shine through, as he pleadingly croons in the chorus for one last moment with his newly ex-lover: “So if you wanna walk me to the car / You oughta know I’ll have a heavy heart / So can we please be absolutely sure / That there’s a mirrorball?”.

Turner’s genius however is found in what lies below this simplicity. There’s more than a hint towards his personal feelings on the band and its music implied in his lyrics, especially in the first verse: “I know I promised this is what I wouldn’t do / Somehow giving it the old romantic fool / Seems to better suit the mood” – it may have seemed inconceivable for the man who delivered the “that rock ‘n’ roll eh?” speech to now have aged into a modern member of the Rat Pack, not least to Turner himself. However, the band can’t play raucous songs about going out on the town in Sheffield forever, and that last line belies this fact – this seems to be the new sound for Arctic Monkeys going forward, and their leader is feeling bittersweet about this.

If ‘There’d Better Be A Mirrorball’ is anything to go by, The Car is set to be another album full of gentle ballads and Turner at his emotive songwriting best. The new Arctic Monkeys sound may disappoint listeners that want to go back to the days of dancing shoes and dance floors, but fans of the loafers in a lunar lounge sound of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino will certainly not be left wanting.

Words by David Harrold


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