Thursday, October 20, 2022

Arctic Monkeys surprise fans with funky third single, 'I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am', ahead of ‘The Car’ release

With Arctic Monkeys’ seventh studio album, ‘The Car’, being mere days from release, fans may have assumed that the band were finished with their surprise drops of singles and music videos. But Arctic Monkeys are not done yet: following the release of ‘There’d Better Be a Mirrorball’ and ‘Body Paint’, they have unveiled one more brilliant single, ‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’.

Having been played at their live shows over the past couple of months, the track was not totally new for keen followers of the band – but the release of a studio version and accompanying video has been incredibly well received regardless, only further fuelling anticipation for the new album.

Like its predecessors, ‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’ is an intoxicating taste of what ‘The Car’ has to offer. It is both reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys’ previous sounds – Alex Turner’s rich vocals hark back to those in ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’, and the track’s upbeat, groovy sound is reminiscent of some of ‘AM’ – and simultaneously totally fresh, with its heavy funk influence signaling yet another new musical direction for the band.

In some ways, ‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’ feels like a middle ground between the album’s other singles, the dreamy, nostalgic ‘There’d Better Be a Mirrorball’ and the grand slow-burner that is ‘Body Paint’. It is far more upbeat than the first, yet less explosive than the latter - but ultimately it brings something totally new to the table.

The track’s bassline and rhythm guitar are the stars of the show: punchy, funky, and addictive, they allow bassist Nick O’Malley and guitarist Jamie Cook to showcase their masterful musicianship. Alongside rich vocals – some of Turner’s best yet - and gorgeous strings, they make ‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’ a hypnotising amalgamation of 70’s funk, indie rock, and baroque pop.

Lyrically, the song is yet another example of Turner’s undeniable talent. One can’t help but draw parallels to the obscure lyrics of ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’,  as Turner sings vaguely and poetically about what appears to be feelings of displacement and isolation within an environment of excessive wealth and leisure.

In the first verse, he sings of “the disco strobes in the stumbling blocks”, juxtaposing an image of parties with feelings of uncertainty and struggle, and soon after refers to “both islands” in the chorus, a reference to the French Riviera – an area known for its wealth and glamour - which he goes on to explicitly mention in the third verse.

The track’s lyrical themes become somewhat clearer in the second verse, when Turner smoothly sings: “It's the intermission / Let's shake a few hands / Blank expressions invite me to suspect / I ain't quite where I think I am / Stackable party guests / To fill the awkward silences.” He paints a vivid image here of a soulless party filled with people he cannot warm or relate to, leaving him generally jaded and disorientated. Of course, his repetition of “I ain’t quite where I think I am” throughout the track emphasises these themes of displacement even further.

Accompanying the single’s release was another music video – the third of ‘The Car’ era. The ‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’ video differs somewhat from the previous two, as it solely depicts a live performance of the song from the band’s intimate, no-phones show in Brooklyn’s King’s Theatre last month. Indeed, the video maintains the vintage, cinematic aesthetic of the previous two videos – and indeed the whole album – filmed in retro colouring with the stunning French Baroque architecture of the King’s Theatre as its backdrop.

‘The Car’ is out on Friday, 21 October - and if its three singles are anything to go by, it promises some of the most innovative and electrifying music from Arctic Monkeys yet.


Ellie Henderson


Image: ‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’ / ‘The Car’ Official Cover

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