How do you follow-up a divisive album where you radically altered your sound? Do you revert to type or double down? With the Arctic Monkeys, it ends up being very much the latter. Their seventh album shows no sign of the raucous riff-heavy indie rock they first became famous for but instead acts as a direct sequel to the polarising Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino.

So, for those looking for dirty rock’n’roll thrills, you will have to look elsewhere. However, it would be a mistake to overlook this latest offering just because of that. Throughout proceedings the group are impressively stretching their musical muscles, cramming in many genres (baroque pop, lounge music, soul, funk, jazz, electronic music…) into the record’s slender 37-minute running time.

Throughout that runtime, there is a stark contrast between the rich expansive sonic palette of the record and the deep melancholy of the lyrics. This becomes immediately apparent on the opening track There’d Better Be A Mirrorball, which has all the lush strings of a classic John Barry composition but is matched with deeply sombre lyrics – “So if you wanna walk me to the car / You oughta know I’ll have a heavy heart” – that makes it sound like a depressed version of a Bond theme.

Similarly, one of the album’s highlights Big Ideas is a sumptuously orchestrated and sweepingly cinematic piece of music (it sounds like the theme of a lost 70’s Italian film) but tells a story of crushed ambition – “But now the orchestra’s got us all surrounded / And I cannot for the life of me remember how they go”. In fact, the album is littered with tales of loss, longing and failures. The contrast works, though, as it makes it feel much more personal and gives it a stronger identity than their previous effort, which too often felt like it was disappearing up its own concept.

If there is a problem here, it has little to do with the music itself. Almost all the tracks are brilliantly polished. The issue is that the influences are so at the forefront it becomes distracting. Of course, as is always said, there is nothing new under the sun. But listening to the album can be a bit like playing musical bingo with a bit of the Beatles, a hint of Isaac Hayes, a smattering of Scott Walker, and a big dollop of David Bowie. The list could go on. It is like listening to a ghostly facsimile of pop history.

However, it is difficult to take against songs as perfectly crafted as the bass-driven Blaxploitation funk stormer Hello You. Or the likes of Sculptures of Anything Goes with its pulsingly atmospheric Carpenter-esque electronics. Plus, while there is still some adjustment to be made to get used to Alex Turner the crooner, his voice throughout is pure audio honey. Full of warmth and sweetness but with an underlying world-weariness that well exceeds his 36 years.

The Car is ambitious, overstuffed and tilts towards true greatness, but never quite reaches the masterpiece status of the multitude of classics it is trying so hard to emulate.