As months of hype, debates over the album and a massive arena tour are now coming to an end, I decided to look back on the six LPs released by Arctic Monkeys.
Since AM played their first gig at The Grapes pub in Sheffield in 2003, their sound has unavoidably evolved but they’ve well and truly cemented their name amongst the best indie bands of all time.
The band’s most recent album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino divided opinion massively between fans on it’s release in May but previous records have also been debated over the years. Here’s my attempt at ranking all six Arctic Monkeys albums from worst to best:
6. Suck It And See (2011)
Arctic Monkeys’ fourth studio album, released in 2011, was titled ‘Suck It And See’ – with the name censored in some American record stores who clearly weren’t familiar with the British figure of speech.
The album saw the beginning of Alex Turner’s 60s Americana influence and a more laid-back approach than it’s precursor ‘Humbug’. The sound had plenty of promise but the songs ended up lacking in substance. Suck It And See gave us a few gems such as ‘Black Treacle’ and the witty ‘Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ but it wasn’t enough to avoid finishing in sixth place.
5. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (2018)
As I’ve already said, Arctic Monkeys’ most recent album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ has divided opinion hugely. However, even it’s greatest admirers will admit it’s far from ‘love at first listen’.
TBH&C was a big departure from the rock ‘n’ roll goodness of AM, toning down the guitars and catchy choruses in favour of pianos of poetic lyricism. It’s a cinematic trip through Alex Turner’s intergalactic dreams. The nature of the music led many to question why Alex Turner didn’t release it as a solo artist. It would even feel more fitting as a Last Shadow Puppets record.
It’s definitely a grower but for me, that just means I now dislike it less than I did back in May. Although, the band’s creativity and boldness on this release is enough for me to rank it fifth just ahead of ‘Suck It And See’.
4. Humbug (2009)
2009’s ‘Humbug’ was a big album for the Arctic Monkeys. They decided to leave Yorkshire behind for the Californian desert, where they worked with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. Homme encouraged the band to experiment with new sounds and what we got as a result, was an album that signified Arctic Monkeys’ transition from Sheffield indie scallywags to cultured rock ‘n’ roll music makers.
Songs like ‘Crying Lightning’ combined weird lyrics, moody riffs and all sorts of new instruments in an intriguing psychedelic blend. It divided opinion with loyal fans at the time but has come to be seen as an album of real significance in the AM discography.
3. Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007)
Arctic Monkeys had one hell of a challenge ahead of them when they were tasked with following up their 2006 debut which had quickly become one of the most successful debut albums of all time. Just a year later in 2007, they released ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’.
In my opinion, the band hit the nail on the head with this LP. Needing an album that packed in the power and energy of their previous release but still brought something fresh and progressed their sound, they did not fail to deliver.
Opening with the mammoth curtain raiser ‘Brianstorm’, it went on to produce some of the band’s best loved songs such as ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ and ‘Teddy Picker’.
2. AM (2013)
In 2013, Arctic Monkey followed up Suck It And See with an even more simply titled album: ‘AM’. It was instantly loved by fans and critics alike for the simple fact it had everything. The album was a masterpiece of big rock riffs, brilliant lyricism, exciting sounds and pure style.
Throwing together the best elements of their previous efforts, along with R&B and hip-hop influences, the band had managed to make an album for everybody – from the indie kids to the mainstream – and it was great. Even the backing vocals on tracks such as ‘Do I Wanna Know’ and ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ are breath-taking.
1. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)
Despite, the legendary status of the last couple of albums in the ranking, there was no doubt in my mind which one of the six would be taking the top spot. The glory goes to 2006’s ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’.
There’s absolutely no shame in failing to top your first attempt when your debut is this damn good. Whatever People Say I Am quickly became the fastest selling debut album since Oasis’ ‘Definitely Maybe’ and propelled Arctic Monkeys to instant fame.
The album is a captivating story of British adolescence and tales from the mean streets of Sheffield. The indie masterpiece gave us classics such as ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ and ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ among many others.
It was the perfect introduction to the Arctic Monkeys from start to finish and proved we were right to ‘believe the hype’.