There’s been news, buzz, reports and all other manner of gossip regarding a brand new and sixth studio album, by Sheffield indie rock gods Arctic Monkeys, for some time now and the latest findings are that 2018 will be the year they return with their first album in what will be almost five whole years. Five long years. But when it comes to Alex Turner and the gang, it’s a well known fact that they produce quality every time, and therefore quantity in the form of frequent releases isn’t something fans are ever so fussed about. Of course there’ll be those who grow impatient, but to those I simply say “JUST BLOODY HANG ON”. The idea of Arctic Monkeys releasing a dud is a terrifying prospect, up there with Donald Trump becoming president or the UK leaving the European Union, but hopefully their sixth record will be the nightmare eventually that remains a fictional horror.
So at this time, we’re taking the chance to look at their five previous albums, released over the past 11 years, and in daring and opinionated fashion, we’re going to rank them. I optimistically expect you all to argue, complain and attack without mercy as you find your opinion to be the complete opposite, so here goes nothing:
5. Favourite Worst Nightmare – 2007
As the album to follow one of the most phenomenal debuts of all time, it stands as a great album, but lacking some of the working class charm that its predecessor did. Also boasting a slightly darker and heavier sound as seen on ‘Teddy Picker’ and ‘Brianstorm’ it was much anticipated and yet left us noticing a big change. Still brilliant, but certainly belongs at number 5.
4. Humbug – 2009
Despite an alteration in style making ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ a slightly polarising release, when they returned in 2009 with ‘Humbug’ the sound had changed entirely and a much more experimental record was unveiled. However, unlike two years before, the change was so stark that it did divide fans, but those on the positive end loved it, including myself, and although enjoying the addition of the word “dickhead” in ‘Pretty Visitors’ having us all laughing out loud, the much more intelligent and unique sound behind tracks like ‘Crying Lightning’, ‘Secret Door’ and ‘Dance Little Liar’ were mesmerising. The highlight of the album is certainly ‘Cornerstone’ which features sentiment, minimalism, genius lyrical content and that cheeky Alex Turner charm.
3. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not… – 2006
As mentioned, their debut was a phenomenon, and the record that followed it was an instant classic. Featuring witty and down to earth lyrics that were both relatable yet humorous. When we first discovered them on Gonzo, all thanks to Zane Lowe, they blew our minds with their melodic yet no holds barred rock n roll style as it was blended with some of the most creative song writing this side of the millennium. Still a great album, but only loses points because their maturity and growth since this album makes it seem a little juvenile and when heading for a big Arctic Monkeys session (which we all do) the first album doesn’t feature as much.
2. AM – 2013
Bet you didn’t see that coming. Not surprising either as Arctic Monkeys released their fifth album after a four year silence and it was the closest they’d got to the perfect album since their first one. Every single track has something great to offer. No filler, just thriller. Kicking off with the effortlessly cool ‘Do I wanna Know’, smashing through the genius ‘R U Mine’ and picking up instant dance floor fillers like ‘One For The Road’, ‘Snap Out Of It’ and ‘Fireside’ on the way, from start to finish there are no faults. One of my personal favourites has got to be the closing track ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ based on the John Cooper Clarke poem, breathing it a whole new life and turning it into a beautiful and poignant ending to a masterpiece. The presentation and image behind it was also notable, and as Alex claimed in his Brit Awards acceptance speech, “that rock n roll just won’t go away“.
and at Number 1…. Suck It & See – 2011
Every time I say this is their best album I’m met with the same strange look, and assumption that it’s just a controversial statement made with the intention to shock and awe but the only reason this is my personal favourite is a completely natural and organic love for what is probably their most underrated and under the radar record in an already hall of fame career. The album features a wealth of different tones and comes at you from multiple different angles. But without doubt it’s their most melodic and sentimental release, heavy in ballads and soft tones that create a flow for which the album as an entirety benefits massively. So sure, ‘AM‘ and ‘Whatever People Say I AM…’ might feature more striking tracks, but it’s the understated idea of the content on ‘Suck It & See’ that make it a better ALBUM. Tracks like ‘She’s Thunderstorms’, ‘Reckless Serenade’ and ‘Piledriver Waltz’ have those dreamy lyrics and smooth delivery, whilst ‘Don’t Sit Down…’, ‘Black Treacle’ and ‘Library Pictures’ have the darkness and the hard hitting elements. The genius lyrical content is ever present also, but the highlight of the whole thing is the title track and in particular the line “I’ve got that face that just says, baby I was meant to break your heart” which managed to develop a lump in my throat every time. When digging out an Arctic Monkeys album to throw on, this one wins, every time.
So there it is, and where will the upcoming sixth album fall into this ranking system. Now go ahead, and disagree, but whatever you do, enjoy Arctic Monkeys, because they’re possibly the best rock band around today…
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)