Sure, everyone loves ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’, but Arctic Monkeys don’t just reserve their audio gold for the singles. Here are the Sheffield lads’ 10 best album tracks, for when a quick radio fix just isn’t enough.
10 ‘Piledriver Waltz’
Originally released as part of Alex Turner’s solo ‘Submarine EP’ soundtrack, ‘Piledriver Waltz’s wistful romanticism was too good to linger in the background. Re-recorded with the rest of the Monkeys to give a fuller, more fleshed-out sound, ‘Suck It And See’s version still manages to retain the sweet sentimentality of Turner’s original with the addition of some gorgeous backing harmonies and a little more oomph.
9 ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’
‘AM’s swooning centrepin, ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ was a lilting torch song built for lighters aloft festival moments. Doe-eyed but with a healthy dose of lusty sexual tension (“It’s not like I’m falling in love I just want you to do me no good/ And you look like you could”), it had all the glimmering fretwork of a classic love song but with a dirty wink where its innocence should be.
8 ‘Pretty Visitors’
A live set staples, ‘Pretty Visitors” jagged, fast-paced wordplay is a prime example of Alex Turner’s lyrical dexterity set against twisted fairground organs and bass guitar stabs. It’s an ominous cut that neatly balanced the youthful energy of the band’s previous work with a darker slant hinting at what was to come, crowned with a clever chorus that encouraged the crowd to play out its sentiments in real time (“All the pretty visitors came and waved their arms/ And cast the shadow of a snake pit on the wall”).
7 ‘This House Is A Circus’
A skittering ball of wonky timings and wired energy, ‘This House Is A Circus’ is an effortless example of a band working as an unstoppable unit with each member as integral as the next. Nestled in an album that expertly veered between sweeping love songs (‘Only Ones Who Know’) and propulsive dancefloor fillers (‘Brianstorm’), ‘This House…’ was one of the ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’s antsiest cuts, a track so brimming with ideas it left you out of breath just trying to keep up.
6 ‘Dancing Shoes’
It’s easy to see why ‘Dancing Shoes’ is one of the few tracks from Arctic Monkeys’ debut to still survive in the band’s current setlist: with verses based around an almost funk-tinged rhythm section and a short pseudo-chorus that erupts in a frustrated howl, you’d have to be wearing shoes made of lead not to bust a move to this one. Plus, bonus points for the oh-so-sultry “you sexy little swiiiine” line. Oh Alex, you’re making us blush.
5 ‘She’s Thunderstorms’
The opening track from fourth LP ‘Suck It And See’, ‘She’s Thunderstorms’ marked an immediate evolution from the Homme-indebted rumble of ‘Humbug’. This one’s all about Alex’s vocal – a soft, sentimental coo reminiscent of the golden age of crooners doused over big soaring guitar riffs and Helders’ powerful, muscular drumming, it added yet another string to the Monkey’s already-brimming bow.
4 ‘Mardy Bum’
‘Mardy Bum’ has become such a Monkeys classic, it seems crazy that the track was never released as a single. All chipper guitars and brilliantly nuanced lyrics detailing an everyday domestic, it’s charm lies in making a relatively non-eventful row seem like a cinematic, perfectly painted story. That Turner – he’s a smart one.
3 ‘Knee Socks’
Considering that basically the whole of ‘AM’ was eventually released as a single (well, half) then it seems a little mad that this sultry, come hither of a song never had its time in the limelight. A lovelorn lament to a long-lost siren (ahem, Miss. Chung), it manages to match the bedroom intimacy of its lyrics with a perfectly pitched mix of falsetto harmonies and dusky melodies. Then Josh Homme shows up on backing vocals and the whole thing erupts in a frisson of unfulfilled lust.
“In my imagination you’re waiting lying on your side/ With your hands between your thighs…” intones Alex Turner over lilting, tremolo-heavy guitars before the band kicks in and crashes around him in an anticipatory sonic crescendo. ‘505’ is a track built for the cover of darkness and 3am silence. It’s a grown up track, filled with desire and doubt. And it’s fucking brilliant.
1 ‘A Certain Romance’
Closing Arctic Monkeys’ debut and its day-to-day observations of life in an average town, ‘A Certain Romance’ is a near-perfect finale – an upside down love letter to Sheffield and its assorted scallies and lads contained in five minutes of rough-edged romanticism. Musically, it tells as much of a story as it does lyrically – beginning with a drum roll before creeping into a giddy guitar hook, growing into its climax and then bowing out with a grandiose final flourish. A glorious conclusion.