After three years in the shadows the Arctic Monkeys are back on the road again! With all six of their albums securing the number 1 spot in the charts, the boys from Sheffield have solidified themselves as one of the greatest British rock bands of all time, and with such a unique style of songwriting and an impressive assortment of songs they’ll be sitting comfortably at the top for a long time. There is still no news yet on a release date for Turner and co’s new album, but in the meantime I have ranked their six albums from worst to best:
7. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
There’s no denying that Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino was a shock to many Arctic Monkeys fans, with its slower pace and complete change in sound. While critics and friends say that this album is a ‘grower’ and will be appreciated in time, I genuinely don’t get that same feeling about the album despite giving it multiple listens over the last few years. Who knows, maybe in time I’ll be proven wrong and change my mind. For now though, while I agree that the lyrics can be interesting and I like that there was a definite vision in mind, this experimental, divisive, 60s inspired album is vastly different from their early work and just doesn’t do it for me.
Release date: 11 May 2018
Top tracks: Four Stars Out Of Five, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, Science Fiction
6. Suck It And See
The problem I have with the quartet’s fourth album Suck It And See, aside from the boring artwork, is that I don’t really have an opinion about it. It has a bit more drive than its predecessor, 2009’s Humbug, it has some cool riffs, and as an isolated album it’s a half-decent collection of rock songs with that classic Alex Turner twist. When lined up against the rest of the Arctic Monkeys’ discography though it feels fairly forgettable. At least with Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino everyone had a lot to say about it, even if it wasn’t all praise. Suck It And See on the other hand has drifted into the ether a decade on and at the time exposed a band struggling to be original and stay relevant. An average-to-good rock album but nothing more.
Release date: 6 June 2011
Top Tracks: Brick By Brick, Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair, Piledriver Waltz
Humbug is one of the more interesting Arctic Monkeys albums. I vividly remember the excitement I felt buying this album in Edinburgh back in 2009 – with two outstanding albums under their belt and me still being a teenager with little appreciation for different styles of music, I had such high hopes for the third album and was of course expecting an album along the same lines as Whatever People Say I am and Favourite Worst Nightmare. How wrong I was though – Humbug is what many call a ‘departure’, digging deeper into the band’s songwriting capabilities and exploring a plethora of guitar tones, drum kits and song structures. Perhaps I was being greedy and naive expecting the Arctic Monkeys to stick to the same formula, but I do now have respect for the band for taking a leap into a new direction. It’s not a masterpiece, nor is it an album I find myself rushing back to, but my appreciation for Humbug continues to grow as I too grow older.
Release date: 19 August 2009
Top tracks: Cornerstone, Pretty Little Visitors, Crying Lightning
4. The Car
The Monkeys’ latest album sees the band pick up where they left off with 2018’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, and instead of journeying back to their early days they’ve continued to mature, evolve their sound and delve deeper into more experimental sounds and arrangements. The gap left by the departure of the electric guitar is filled primarily by strings, which are a key component of The Car’s sound and deservedly hold an important place in the album’s narrative. Not only do the strings work perfectly with Turner’s smooth, falsetto vocals, but they also showcase his fantastic songwriting abilities and compliment the lounge-esque instrumentals. For many old-school Arctic Monkeys fans, The Car will be a bit of a slow burner and acceptance of who the Arctic Monkeys are today will take some time to sink in, but if you give this album the time it deserves you’ll find yourself lost in it and wanting to listen again and again.
Release date: 21 October 2022
Top tracks: Big Ideas, Mr Schwartz, Body Paint
3. Favourite Worst Nightmare
Arctic Monkeys showed that they meant business and were here to stay when they returned just a year after the release of Whatever People Say I Am with Brianstorm, their hard-hitting first single of their follow-up album. Favourite Worst Nightmare deservedly received critical acclaim at the time, which is impressive considering the difficulties many bands face in trying to follow a hugely successful debut album. There is not a bad song on this album and has a pleasing mix of the more hard-hitting, swaggering songs like Teddy Picker, Old Yellow Bricks and The Bad Thing, as well as the slower songs like 505 and Only Ones Who Know. It’s a bit more polished than its predecessor, but it still builds on the debut and if anything is louder and punchier. Favourite Worst Nightmare was the perfect next step for the band and is a very difficult album to criticise.
Release date: 23 April 2007
Top tracks: Old Yellow Bricks, Teddy Picker, This House Is A Circus
While I have a slight issue with the lack of urgency and over-reliance on the big, half-time drum beats, I have no issue saying that AM is a fantastic album from start to finish and was undoubtedly a significant turning point in the band’s career. After an incredibly successful debut album and a follow-up that met all expectations, the two albums that followed, 2009’s Humbug and 2011’s Suck it and See, were a bit of a departure and often uninspiring, and so the band’s next move was crucial. AM injected life and originality back into the band; it’s consistently strong but also has plenty of big hitters, and has a groove that really compliments Turner’s vocals. It explores new sounds without feeling forced, has stood the test of time and eight years on is the group’s most commercially successful album.
Release date: 6 September 2013
Top tracks: Arabella, R U Mine?, Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
1. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
Arctic Monkeys changed the world with the release of their debut album 16 years ago. Originality, or in some instances the lack thereof, has been a theme throughout this article, and it boils down to the benchmark set by Whatever People Say I Am, which oozes originality throughout. Turner’s midlands accent singing about tracky bottoms tucked in socks, mixed with a raw guitar and punchy drums, all of it just combines so well and I can confidently say the band will never match it again. Every song could have been a single, every riff is as enticing and memorable as the next, and every lyric feels effortlessly clever. There’s of course a nostalgic element for me – one of my most treasured memories as a teenager was being on the Isle of White with a group of friends, getting drunk on the edge of a cliff singing along to every word of this album from start to finish – but Whatever People Say I Am is a classic for the ages and by far my favourite Arctic Monkeys album.
Release date: 23 January 2006
Top tracks: A Certain Romance, From The Ritz To The Rubble, Mardy Bum
If you enjoyed reading this article, you can check out my other ranked articles: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Sum 41 and Blink-182
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