The Arctic Monkeys are one of the most successful rock bands to come out of Britain since the turn of the century.
From starting as smart-ass kids in Sheffield to becoming slick and stylish rockstars, upon listening to their musical output it becomes apparent why. Each album thus far has seen the band explore a different avenue of rock ’n’ roll and this has kept them fresh and relevant. Always uncompromising within themselves and still as witty as they were at the beginning, this is the Arctic Monkeys’ five albums from worst to best.
5. Suck It And See (2011)
Ranking Suck It And See at the bottom of this list is in no way claiming it is a bad album. However, one album does have to come last and the Arctic Monkey’s fourth effort is their least gripping. Containing a more laid back approach, Suck It And See is filled with mostly ‘50s inspired ballads with psychedelic influences. There are still a few heavier tracks on the album, with “Library Pictures” and “All My Own Stunts” clear highlights on the record. Vocalist Alex Turner’s wit is still ever present, especially on songs such as the title track and “Piledriver Waltz”.
4. Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007)
Favourite Worst Nightmare had the daunting job of following up the Arctic Monkey’s smash debut album, Whatever People Think I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Despite this immense pressure, it succeeded brilliantly. It was to be the band’s first change in style and set the pattern for a stylistic change on every record after. Compared to their debut, Favourite Worst Nightmare was a meaner, more ambitious record. It saw Alex Turner move from spinning tales not just from Sheffield, but from all over the world. Tracks such as “Do Me A Favour” and “505” showed Turner starting to croon instead of shout with songs such as “Fluorescent Adolescent” and “D Is For Dangerous” displaying some very dance inspired beats.
3. AM (2013)
AM is the Arctic Monkeys’ latest album to date and their biggest since their debut. Drawing inspiration from many different styles of music, the album launched a completely new persona for the band. Four skinny lads from Sheffield became greased up rockstars in leather, and they’d never looked better. Taking inspiration from hip-hop beats as well as glam rock choruses and heavy metal riffs, AM is a sexy, after-midnight record that weaves tales of desperation, lust and nights filled with too many drink together. Opening track “Do I Wanna Know” sees the band at their most seductive, where “Arabella” is an ode to the titular figure as well as Black Sabbath. Album closer “I Wanna Be Yours” captures the essence of a never-ending loneliness amplified by a bottle of scotch at 3am, and “R U Mine?” encapsulates the confusion left after many blurry nights out. Am is essentially the band’s commentary on the life of fame they’ve come to realise.
2. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006)
The Arctic Monkey’s debut is them at their most raw and unrefined, and that’s why it is so brilliant. Considered somewhat of a concept album, each song provides a first-person narrative of life out clubbing in Sheffield. Containing elements of indie rock, garage-rock revival and punk, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not is a fast, unrelentingly record that contains a wit the likes of which the boys haven’t produced before. Tracks such as “Dancing Shoes”, and “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” offer a refreshing perspective on trying to pick up in clubs, while “From The Ritz To The Rubble” turns the focus on nightclub bouncers. “When The Sun Goes Down” sheds light on prostitution in Sheffield, while “Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secure” speaks of trivial problems that arise when trying to catch a taxi. The record is a snapshot of the environment the Arctic Monkeys come from, so expertly executed it makes people from the other side of the world feel like they were born in Sheffield.
1. Humbug (2009)
Humbug is not the Arctic Monkey’s most popular album in terms of numbers, but artistically it is simply their best. Produced by Queens Of The Stone Age frontman, Josh Homme, the record contains a heavy Californian desert rock influence. While Favourite Worst Nightmare was different in style from their debut, Humbug was the biggest leap the band have ever made. Experimenting with song structures and different instruments such as baritone guitars and xylophones, Humbug contains this eery feeling that emanates from every track. The record is extremely important in the development of the band. While not recognised at the time, in retrospect it has become evident that without Humbug, the Arctic Monkeys could not have made AM. Dark and mysterious, the highlights of the album are not the singles, but more so the deep cuts. “The Fire And The Thud” is an ominous slow burner that opens up to painfully wailing guitars at the end, where “The Jeweller’s Hand” offers up melodies reminiscent of the supernatural. “Dance Little Liar”, arguably the best song on the record, creates an immense mystery around the subject of the truth before leading into beautifully executed build-up and guitar solo. Humbug may take a few listens to get into, but once you do it’ll never stop giving.
What did you think? What’s your favourite Arctic Monkeys album? Let us know!
Subscribe to University of Rock's official newsletter here for more stories you don't want to miss plus exclusive new releases, promotions, and more.
Are you a musician looking to grow your Instagram following? Click here to reserve a feature on one of our accounts!