Emma Viola Lilja
Death. Taxes. New Alex Turner hairstyles. He was photographed at Way Out West Festival in August sporting an Imagine-era Lennon-esque mop, including the circular framed glasses. It’s not the first time Turner has taken cues from the ’60s rock icon. He grew out a shaggier Plastic Ono Band look during the Suck it and See era and has praised his songwriting, saying he always wanted to be able to write a song like “I am the Walrus” and “Come Together,” that “it’s all a jumble, but it’s not just that if you know what I mean. It paints you a picture and puts you in this place. He’s got a way of leading you somewhere with these unusual words that don’t make sense, but also make perfect fucking sense.” Turner came closest to a musical Lennon impression on “No. 1 Party Anthem,” but perhaps his most obvious inspiration is the evolution of his hairstyles from project to project. Each album has had its own distinct look, a coiffure symbol of the band’s direction.
Although he told NME in June that he was in no rush to record a new Arctic Monkeys album, he admitted a few weeks later to Beats 1 that he “[felt] bad for not writing for a while” and wanted to “get back on the piano, get back up to writing a song a week.” Arctic Monkeys have been quiet since the end of their AM tour. Turner worked on the Last Shadow Puppets project while drummer Matt Helders joined Iggy Pop and Josh Homme on Post Pop Depression, and got married and had a daughter. In the meantime, guitarist Jamie Cook got married and had a son, and bassist Nick O’Malley had two children.
The Last Shadow Puppets have an EP that’s due December 2nd, presumably comprised of leftovers from Everything You’ve Come To Expect. The irony in that title is that it’s impossible to tell which direction he’ll go next (yeah, yeah, expect the unexpected). The “R U Mine?” video, however, contained clues for the direction AM would take, in retrospect. Turner rocked an Elvis quiff and later quipped that “it sounds like a Dr. Dre beat, but we’ve given it an Ike Turner bowl-cut and sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster.” The setting for the video was inside an SUV, a perfect American metaphor for their most American album, the result of them all making Los Angeles their home.
So what does this new hairstyle mean for the sound of the next Monkeys record? It’s nearly impossible to say now, but the trend away from arrangements that require him to play guitar in a live setting is a safe bet. Perhaps he’ll go full blown crooner for a majority of the album. Perhaps he won’t play any guitar on the album and it will be all keys. Perhaps he takes a Julian Casablancas left turn into obscure genre mashing and turn in something that would only be revered as a cult hit; a revolt away from the success that was AM. There are not many clues about a new record to be had right now, but this shift may be the first hint of the future of Arctic Monkeys. Whatever happens, it will undoubtedly be great.