Hailing from the steel city of Sheffield, Arctic Monkeys burst onto the scene with a level of hype and anticipation rarely seen in the indie rock circuit. Their debut ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ was a cultural detonation, a snapshot of UK youth wrapped in sharp riffs and even sharper wit, making it one of the fastest-selling debut albums in British history. But the Monkeys were no one-trick ponies, and subsequent albums, like ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ and the desert vibes-infused ‘Humbug’, highlighted a band unafraid to evolve, their sound maturing as quickly as their fan base.
With ‘Suck It and See’, they polished their edges, presenting pop-like melodies with a lingering garage rock finish. And who could gloss over ‘AM’, with its hip-hop infused beats and sultry grooves, a record that seemed to lock in the Arctic Monkeys as rock mainstays for a good while longer? The band’s daring leap into the loungey concepts of ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ left no doubt of their artistic audacity, while their latest offering, ‘The Car’, promises a further journey into sophisticated and nuanced sounds.
Capturing the band in a different light, ‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall’ showcases their live prowess and the controlled chaos that makes their performances electrifying. This mixtape of studio innovation and live bravado sketches the arc of a band that has consistently set the bar for what it means to be a rock act in the modern era. So let’s get into it. From the raw energy of their early days to the refined intrigue of their latest work, here are the Arctic Monkeys albums ranked.
7. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino ( 2018 )
Alex Turner swaps his sharp-tongued lyricism for a more obscure, stream-of-consciousness style that has listeners parsing through the glitzy veneer for meaning, much like one would sift through the lounge’s ashtrays the morning after a wild soirée. This album is all about the vibe: a soundtrack to a space-age casino with Turner as the velvet-voiced crooner at the grand piano. With a distinct lack of singles material and a divisive sound that polarized fans and critics alike, it’s a slow-burn masterpiece that rewards the patient and the adventurous. It’s the Monkeys’ most stylistically cohesive record, trading visceral impact for a hypnotic, atmospheric slow dance in zero gravity. Say what you will, but “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” boldly goes where no Arctic Monkeys album has gone before.
6. Suck It and See ( 2011 )
Released on June 6, 2011, this album strikes a different chord from its predecessors—a little less leather jacket aggression, a little more linen-shirt introspection. Here, Turner’s songwriting gets intimate, laced with romantic hues and deft wordplay that could give the most storied troubadours a run for their money. The band hadn’t fully abandoned its wiry, kinetic energy, but they channeled it into jangly, 60s-tinged pop with tracks like “She’s Thunderstorms” and “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala.” Commercially solid and critically well-received, “Suck It and See” proved the Monkeys could pivot without stumbling, delivering an album that shimmers with a lighter touch yet still packs the Sheffield punch—just in a velvet glove this time around.
5. The Car ( 2022 )
Signifying a continuation of their musical evolution, diverging further from their earlier sound as emphasized by drummer Matt Helders. This album, distant from their early era of heavy riffs and greaser aesthetics, delves into a more grand, colorful, and cinematic soundscape, exemplifying some of the band’s greatest songs to date.
Building on the lounge-pop style of their previous album, “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino,” “The Car” features an array of tracks that showcase the band’s adaptability and growth. Songs like “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball” and “Sculptures of Anything Goes” highlight the band’s creative experimentation, while “Big Ideas” and “Body Paint” display a full-bodied orchestral sound, showcasing a cohesive and united group performance.
The album has been noted for Alex Turner’s songwriting prowess, fitting the music’s mood with lyrics that blend epic romanticism and a touch of cynicism. The closing track, “Perfect Sense,” takes listeners on a Beatles-esque journey, further showcasing the band’s ability to reinvent and explore new musical territories. Overall, “The Car” stands as one of Arctic Monkeys’ most accomplished and impressive records, marking their confident stride into new musical landscapes.
4. Humbug ( 2009 )
It opens a Pandora’s box of heavier riffs and brooding lyrics, showing a maturation that many bands of their ilk often resist. The boys from Sheffield trade their trademark wit for a dose of desert rock sorcery under the guidance of Queens of the Stone Age shaman Josh Homme, whose production fingerprints are all over the sonically adventurous tracks. Tracks like “Crying Lightning” and “Cornerstone” paint Turner as a complex, shadow-laden storyteller against a backdrop of rich, reverb-laden guitars. Some fans yearn for the band’s early, kinetic bounce, but “Humbug” is an audacious play, boldly confronting the sophomore slump with a confident swagger. It’s not just an album; it’s a rite of passage, marking the band’s fearless plunge into deeper musical waters and setting the stage for their future evolutionary leaps.
3. Favourite Worst Nightmare ( 2007 )
It exploded onto the scene on April 24, 2007, reinforcing the Sheffield lads’ reputation as the torchbearers of 21st-century British rock. Turner’s wit sharpens like a blade here as he spins tales of nightlife, nostalgia, and neurosis with a lyrical dexterity that leaves the competition playing catch-up. From the relentless drums of “Brianstorm” to the haunting echo of “505,” the album is a tour-de-force of tight musicianship and adrenalized urgency. This is the sound of a band not resting on its laurels, but rather shaking off the ‘new kid’ label with a riotous display of evolving prowess. Fans embraced the record’s maturity, while critics tipped hats to its complexity and innovation. On this ride, Arctic Monkeys didn’t just rattle cages; they blew the doors wide open, delivering a record that’s both a beloved fan-favorite and a heavyweight in the indie rock realm.
2. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not ( 2006 )
Released on January 29, 2006, this album wasn’t just a collection of tracks; it was a cultural moment, an anthology of anthems for a disenchanted youth delivered with unapologetic northern swagger. With Alex Turner’s gift of lyrical wit sharper than a tack, the album paints a vivid picture of UK nightlife, complete with bouncers, romance, and the gritty streets of their hometown. It kicks off with “The View from the Afternoon” and storms through to the infectious “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” each track pulsating with the frantic energy of youth. The album became the fastest-selling debut in British music history at the time, a testament to its raw energy and unabashed honesty. It’s not just a record; it’s the clarion call of a band setting the bar for indie rock, announcing themselves as the voice of a generation, and they haven’t looked back since. If revolutions had a soundtrack, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” would be blaring over the speakers.
1. AM ( 2013 )
Released on September 9, 2013, this album marries the gritty charm of British garage rock with the slick appeal of American R&B, creating a hybrid sound that invigorated the indie scene. Hook-laden tracks like “Do I Wanna Know?” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” groove with a sultry, insistent energy that’s both fresh and familiar, magnetizing listeners like moths to a flame. Alex Turner’s sharp, cinematic lyrics couple with the band’s newfound love for hip-hop beats, creating an intoxicating mix that’s seductive, robust, and infinitely replayable. This is the album where Arctic Monkeys shed any remnants of their youthful exuberance, instead donning leather jackets and an air of cool nonchalance. Commercially massive and critically acclaimed, “AM” is an audacious anthemic giant – a defining moment where they not just found their groove; they fashioned it into a crown.