In celebration of the eleven-year anniversary of the kings of indie rock Arctic Monkeys’ debut album, Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not, I’ve decided to attempt to rank their five albums so far. First things first, all of their albums are fantastic. The Sheffield band’s style has changed so dramatically but with so much success that it is very difficult to compare them. With a sixth album (hopefully?!) coming our way in the next year or two this list is open to opinion. When it comes down to it, the case for every one of the albums to be their best can be made. However, here goes with my offering.
5. Suck It And See
2011’s Suck It And See is AM’s most poppy and light record, filled with jingly guitars and Alex Turner having a competition with himself to include as many nonsensical metaphors as possible. Tracks such as The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala and That’s Where You’re Wrong are brilliant, but the album also includes songs such as the rather dreary Love Is A Laserquest and Brick By Brick, which is commonly thought of as the worst song to make it onto a Monkeys album. A great record but when faced with the competition it has in their other albums, finds itself falling behind.
Humbug was probably the main transition from their earlier, punk rock stuff to the more brooding and polished material found on their later albums. Tunes like Secret Door and Potion Approaching are exciting and while you can make comparisons between the first two albums and the last two, Humbug stands on it’s own as an experimental sound and the progression from local lads to LA lovers. It’s difficult to choose a bad track from this album, but a lot of them do have sounds and styles that only appear in that song, which shows how risks and experiments do not always go according to plan.
3. Favourite Worst Nightmare
Arctic Monkeys release so many songs and get that near-perfect formula multiple times so that every album is devoid of bad songs that just fill up a couple of minutes with no personality or memorability. Favourite Worst Nightmare is full of fantastic songs, and honestly I struggled a lot to order this top three, because they could come in any order you want. Fluorescent Adolescent is the best track on their second album, with it’s catchy melodies similar to the first record’s, but featuring Alex Turner’s lyrics developing into the sort found on their latest albums. Brianstorm, This House Is A Circus and Teddy Picker are all songs that are ferociously fast-paced and energetic, whereas 505, Only Ones Who Know and Do Me A Favour showing signs of a quickly maturing Turner. A superb album, but one that falls ever so slightly short when compared to their other offerings.
Arctic Monkeys’ most swaggering and confident album, AM is a masterpiece. Singles like R U Mine? and Do I Wanna Know? lead the album and are obviously the most memorable and commercially successful tunes, but the quality is continued throughout the album, with Knee Socks, One For The Road and Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? personal favourites of mine. Under the influence of Josh Homme, the album is the most American of the three recorded in the States, with American slang and that Elvis-esque pompadour. However, Turner’s voice still retains a Sheffield twang, which has sadly seemed to go missing in TLSP’s latest album. AM also features slow, ballad-like songs such as Mad Sounds and No.1 Party Anthem. The Americanisms, polished performance and swagger set them apart from the nervous teenagers that first burst onto the northern scene, and the music itself has evolved and taken paths that keep Arctic Monkeys at the top of the indie genre.
1. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
I feel bad saying that Arctic Monkeys have never topped their first offering, but this is one of the greatest indie albums of all time. Alex Turner’s witty comments on Sheffield life as a teenager, the ferocious drumming and the punk guitars combine on tracks such as The View From The Afternoon, Fake Tales Of San Francisco and probably Arctic Monkeys’ most famous track, I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor. Maybe not their greatest album when you look at the quality of melodies, but it is always instantly catchy and the perfect debut album. No wonder they were hailed as the next big thing in indie when they began, a title I would say they have exceeded. When The Sun Goes Down, Dancing Shoes and the brilliant end song A Certain Romance are other highlights from the album. What makes it even more incredible is that the boys were teenagers who had only been playing music since the age of around sixteen when they made this album. Eleven years has passed but it is still just as brilliant as when it was released.
So there it is, my ranking of Arctic Monkeys albums. It’s been difficult but I think I made the correct decision. I’m sure not everyone will agree with me though, so comment how you would arrange the albums or vote in the poll below.