Sunday, October 02, 2022

Arctic Monkeys Enthral Fans With Stunning New Single, ‘Body Paint’

Following the surprise release of ‘There’d Better Be a Mirrorball’ last month, Arctic Monkeys have revealed a second single, ‘Body Paint’, ahead of the release of their highly-anticipated seventh studio album, ‘The Car’. 

This time, the band seemed to somewhat move away from the melancholic nostalgia of the album’s first single, with ‘Body Paint’ packing a powerful punch.

The song’s beginning harks back to the rich, lounge music sounds of the band’s previous album, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’. 

Smooth, melodic piano opens the song against the backdrop of jazz-like drumming. Alex Turner’s vocals are in almost complete focus as the song begins, with his bold falsetto commanding the listener’s full attention. He sings, “For a master of deception and subterfuge / You’ve made yourself quite the bed to lie in” as the track’s opening lyric, setting up for the song’s central lyrical themes of dishonesty and deceit.

 Indeed, the slow burn of the first minute and a half is suddenly interrupted by strings, and the dynamic of the song begins to shift as its bridge begins. The track then erupts, just as Turner repeats, “So predictable, I know what you’re thinking”, into a grand, guitar-heavy, emotive climax.


The ‘body paint’ referred to repeatedly in the song’s refrain – “There’s still a trace of body paint / On your legs and on your arms and on your face” - indicates that its lyrics could be about infidelity.  With this interpretation, the infidelity and dishonesty of his love interest tortures Turner: “My teeth are beating and my knees are weak” … “I feel the tears are coming on”. The ‘body paint’ may then refer to the traces of a physical affair, as his lover suspiciously returns “straight from the cover shoot”. Of course, the vagueness of Turner’s lyrics leaves interpretation very much open  - but they are as poetic and powerful as ever.


Indeed, ‘Body Paint’ is a journey – and the band released a compelling music video to match. With a similarly nostalgic atmosphere to the ‘There’d Better Be a Mirrorball’ video, ‘Body Paint’ showcases masterful cinematography and a stunning vintage aesthetic. It depicts retro car hazard light symbols and shots of the band members spinning in circles, interjected with many vague symbolic and cinematic references. One of the most notable, in line with the theme of deception, is Turner lighting a cigarette from a burning playing card which clearly reads ‘The Fool’.


Overall, 60s and 70s influences undeniably permeate the track’s aesthetic and sound. Musically, parallels can be drawn with the work of The Beatles – for example, the song’s strings are reminiscent of those in ‘Eleanor Rigby’ - and David Bowie, particularly in Turner’s vocals. To draw such comparisons may be a bold choice, but Arctic Monkeys have truly proven themselves to be masters of their craft, fundamentally unafraid of following their musical instincts.


‘The Car’ is due to be released in three weeks’ time, and it seems that ‘Body Paint’ has given fans a decent idea of what to expect from the album: as the band’s drummer, Matt Helders, himself stated, the track essentially “encompasses the (whole) record”. Whilst the beautiful ‘There’d Better Be a Mirrorball’ was very much reminiscent of the ‘Tranquility Base’ era, it is ‘Body Paint’ that signals that the new Arctic Monkeys era is well and truly here.


Ellie Henderson


Image: 'Body Paint' Official Single Cover


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