Before Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino comes out, here's ranking every Arctic Monkeys album so far from worst to best
In anticipation of the band's upcoming album 'Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino,' we're taking all their albums so far and ranking them from least impressive to most mind-blowing.
The long and harrowing wait for Arctic Monkeys is finally almost at an end. Last week, the band released a short teaser on Twitter announcing the release of their new album, 'Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino'. Their sixth studio album, set for a May 11 release, comes after five long years and serves as a follow up to their 2013 smash-hit, the critically acclaimed 'AM'.
From starting as kids in Sheffield with a unique musical sensibility that combined the styles of fast-paced punk and undeniably hooky rock riffs to securing global recognition as re-inventors of rock long after Pete Townshend famously declared that 'Rock is dead', Arctic Monkeys is one of the most innovative bands in the modern rock landscape.
It's this ability of the band to constantly one-up their own sound and outdo themselves which has made them so universally loved today. It must be noted that it's been unusually long since Arctic Monkeys released a studio album, and a lot has happened since then. As Noisey points out, Alex Turner has been spending a lot of time in Los Angeles and even his accent has been slowly morphing, gaining a little bit of a Southern drawl. There is quite a bit of speculation about what the new album will be like, especially since we have so little to go by (apart from the teaser and the tracklist, the band has been pretty tight-lipped, and no previews or singles have dropped yet).
Judging by the name of the album, the tracklist and the band's recent whereabouts, the prevalent theory is that 'Tranquillity Base Hotel + Casino' could very well be a concept album - the 'kind of high-art concept that involves moving to Los Angeles for several years, gloriously losing and then finding your mind, then writing an album about it.'
Meanwhile, while we wait patiently for May 11, in anticipation of the Monkeys' upcoming record, we're ranking all their albums so far from least impressive to most mind-blowing. Check out the list below:
5. Suck It and See (2011)
Peak position on Billboard Top Album Sales: No. 14 on 6.25.2011
Putting 'Suck It and See' at the very bottom of this list is by no means a way of saying that it was a bad album. But since something has to take this spot, I guess I could say (with fair caution) that compared to the rest of the Monkeys' body of work, 'Suck It and See' is the one that's not quite as gripping as the others.
With a more laid-back approach when compared to the other albums, 'Suck It and See' (a title that is an obvious homage to Velvet Underground's 'Peel Slowly and See') came five years into the band's career and is filled with 50's inspired ballads but with a slightly psychedelic twist, a clear departure from the band's distinctive garage-rock style and post-punk roots. But even then, the album showcases a band in total control of what they're doing as is evident in the way they blend new genres and ideas craftily together.
There are still a few glimpses of heavier tracks on the album, with 'Library Pictures' and 'All My Own Stunts' reminding us that AM is still in touch with their good old sonic feel. Alex Turner’s wit is still sharp as ever, especially on the title track and the 'Piledriver Waltz' ("If you're gonna walk on water / make sure you wear comfortable shoes," he sings). ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ delivered on drummer Matt Helders’ promise to make something more “instant and poppy” and 'She's Thunderstorms' is reminiscent of their previous album Humbug's desert-rock feel.
In 'Suck It and See', we see the band poised on the verge of producing something truly earnest and brilliant, which ultimately culminated into 2013's 'AM'. But more on that later!
4. Humbug (2009)
The band's third studio album 'Humbug,' plays a pivotal role in the Arctic Monkeys story. The album was produced by Queens of the Stone Age frontman, Josh Homme, and the influence of the desert rocker is so glaring that it's impossible to miss. Homme's musical philosophy has always been to embrace the weirdness instead of blocking it out and amplifying it to it's loudest, something that seems to agree very much with Alex Turner and the gang, who themselves started off as somewhat of the weirdos of the Brit rock scene.
Humbug saw the Monkeys at their most experimental stage. Experimenting with song structures and more instruments than ever before (including baritone guitars and xylophones), the album gives a sneak peek into a band that's in an unfettered, transitional stage.
The album didn't garner much commercial success and it's understandable why. Even the average Arctic Monkeys fan would have to listen to it a couple of times before finding it palatable. But that's what makes it such a good album in retrospect. Humbug was not really centered around singles or radio friendly per se but offered some deep-cut tracks instead. While 'The Fire And The Thud' is an eerie slow burner that unfolds into painfully wailing guitars at the end, 'The Jeweller’s Hand' offers a feeling of a creepy carnival. 'Dance Little Liar' (listen above) is undoubtedly the album's best track, built around a groovy beat that culminates into a mind-blowing guitar solo while lyrically exploring the interplay between truth and guilt.
3. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006)
This was the one that started it all for the band. Arctic Monkeys' debut album 'Whatever People Say I Am...' emphatically made the rock world stop and do a double take almost in disbelief. By 2006, thanks to acts like Joy Division and New Order, punk had already welcomed a new sonic aesthetic, incorporating dance-friendly bits into its otherwise gritty, raw sound. Arctic Monkeys took that leeway, crammed in some tight snares and ultra-fast guitar licks to make a statement. Who says you can't dance to punk music? It's probably the signature sound of modern post-punk revival.
Absolutely smashing straight out of the gates with the witty and observational 'The View from the Afternoon' and following it up with arguably the best indie club bangers of all time in 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,' just these two tracks are enough to take the wind out of you. But of course, they don't stop there. Packed with fast numbers like 'Dancing Shoes', 'Mardy Bum' and 'Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Too Strong...', the album barely gives you any time to catch a breath.
The brilliance of it all is that while they keep you on your toes throughout the album, Alex Tuner's lyrics are about some of the most mundane things in life. The album provides a first-person narrative of life out clubbing in Sheffield. While 'From The Ritz To The Rubble' talks about nightclub bouncers, 'When The Sun Goes Down' sheds light on prostitution in Sheffield and 'Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secure' addresses the trivial problems that arise when trying to catch a taxi after a heavily inebriating night!
Arguably one of the best debut albums in the history of rock, 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' takes the third spot on our list.
2. AM (2013)
It was a tough call as to whether Arctic Monkeys' latest studio album should take the top place or the silver medal, but at the risk of annoying fans, 2013's nearly flawless effort 'AM' takes second place on our charts. Loved by fans and critics alike, on 'AM', the band took the laid back experimentation of 2011's 'Suck It and See' and put it on maximum overdrive. Just when we were about to familiarizing ourselves to their new sound, Arctic Monkeys hit the reset button with this album.
Taking inspiration from all over the musical landscape, including hip-hop beats as well as glam rock choruses and heavy metal riffs, 'AM' is a versatile album whose sexy, lusty feel goes equally well at clubs, midnight house party or even a drive down the open road. The opening track 'Do I Wanna Know' not only showcases a band that has seen and traveled the world and grown to their absolute impetus, but also comes with a swanky psychedelic music video that is instantly reminiscent of Tame Impala's visual aesthetics.
While 'Arabella' is a sludgy, psychedelic ode that pays homage to Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs', the contrasting album closer 'I Wanna Be Yours' captures the essence of a never-ending loneliness amplified by a bottle of scotch in the middle of the night. 'Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High' sees Turner at his wittiest best and 'Knee Socks' is a pining, bittersweet love song that leaves you wondering what just happened. The album maintains a fine balance in tempos and style, with crisp outros between songs that flow seamlessly into the next track. Whether you listen to the whole album or pull out just the singles, there's no denying that 'AM' was arguably the band's best artistic effort so far.
Arctic Monkeys set the bar really high with this one and the upcoming 'Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino' has a lot to live up to. But this is not the first time the band has found itself in such a position, and on that note, let's get to the very top of our list.
1. Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007)
In a historic sense, it could be said that Arctic Monkeys today are in a very similar position as they were before they released their sophomore album a full decade ago. 'Favourite Worst Nightmare' had the daunting job of following up the debut album, 'Whatever People Think I Am, That’s What I’m Not.' Similarly, as mentioned above, the upcoming 'Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino' has the next-to-impossible challenge of matching up to 2013's 'AM'.
Despite the immense pressure, 'Favourite Worst Nightmare' managed to break all expectations. It was to be the band’s first change in style and set the tone for the versatility that the Monkeys are now famous for. Compared to their debut, the sophomore album was a meaner, faster, more ambitious record, but it was also more polished and shook off some of the raw grit from their debut days. It saw Alex Turner move from spinning tales not just from Sheffield, but from all over the world. Tracks such as 'Do Me A Favour' and '505' showed Turner starting to croon instead of his usual breathless shouting, which still remained in zingers like 'Fluorescent Adolescent' and 'D Is For Dangerous'. From the rollicking bends of the opener 'Brianstorm' to the unforgettable album closer '505', the album holds its ground and shakes it too while presenting some of the band's best-remembered hits.
The album tops our list not because it's the bands creative best (that position undoubtedly goes to 'AM'), but because it reminds us that Arctic Monkeys have a knack for outdoing themselves constantly and gives fans much to hope for as we are just a month away from the band's latest offering.