Despite frequent rumours as to Arctic Monkeys’ whereabouts, the wait for album number six continues. Hip hop-influenced beat odyssey? Prowling, growling rock leviathan? All acoustic ballad overload? There’s really no guessing at this moment where their follow-up to ‘AM’ will venture. So while the quartet bunker down to cook up their next missive, let us cast our minds back to their already-proven gems and pit them against each other in a fight for the crown. The indie equivalent of choosing your favourite child, here are Arctic Monkeys’ albums so far, ranked in order of brilliance.
5. ‘Humbug’ (2009)
While third album ‘Humbug’ undeniably plays a pivotal role in the Arctic Monkeys story, in retrospect it feels more like an important bridge between the youthful vim of old and the meatier material that would come than a destination. There are some undeniably amazing tunes to be found in its midst (‘Pretty Visitors’, ‘Crying Lightning’), but in comparison to the definitive statements of some of their other records, ‘Humbug’ feels more like an exciting window into a band in transition.
4. ‘Suck It And See’ (2011)
In at number four is ‘Suck It And See’ – ‘Humbug”s wiser, older brother. An album that deftly moves between styles with ease, it showed a band absolutely in control of what they were doing and one that could bend ideas and genres to fit to their own shape. Prowling single ‘Don’t Sit Down Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair’ took the desert rock swagger that ‘Humbug’ producer Josh Homme brought to the mix and gave it a witty reboot. ‘Piledriver Waltz’ and ‘She’s Thunderstorms’ brought their nostalgic ballad game to the next level. ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ came good on drummer Matt Helders’ promise to make something more “instant and poppy”. ‘Suck It And See’ showed a band on the verge of something truly brilliant…
3. ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ (2007)
If it’s possible for a record by one of the biggest bands in the world to be underrated, then ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ would likely be the Monkeys’ token underrated LP. Tasked with following the biggest selling debut album in UK history, ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ did the admirable job of progressing the band’s sound considerably without losing sight of itself. Under gargantuan level of pressure, Alex Turner’s lyrics were sharp and antagonistic, while melodically the record contains both some of the band’s most brilliantly twitchy, adrenaline-fuelled tracks (‘This House Is A Circus’, ‘Brianstorm’) and some of their most beautiful (‘505’, ‘Only Ones Who Know’).
2. ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ (2006)
While for many, ‘Whatever People Say I Am…’ is an unbeatably near-perfect record, it sits at Number Two here if only because it would be doing a disservice to a band as constantly innovative and constantly brilliant as the Arctics to state that they’d never bettered their first attempt. Still, from the opening drum roll of ‘The View From The Afternoon’ to the final, glorious bow-out of ‘A Certain Romance’, it stands as one of music’s greatest opening statements.
1. ‘AM’ (2013)
Two years after it’s release, ‘AM”s genius has already been confirmed, reiterated and hammered home so many times you might even be needing a little break from it. But remember the first time you heard the sexually-charged purr of lead single ‘R U Mine?’ Or the low and louche stomp of ‘Do I Wanna Know’? Every nugget unveiled in the run up to ‘AM’s release felt like slowly pulling together the clues in music’s most exciting treasure hunt, and holy shit was the final treasure good. When an album is so on the money, so brilliantly exciting and fresh and game-changing that people are writing whole essays on how amazing the backing vocals are, then you know you’ve done something right. ‘AM’ was the sound of Arctic Monkeys stepping up and pushing all their former peers off their pedestal in one fell swoop.