Remember those GIFs with the mesmerizing soundwaves and angsty captions, reposted on Tumblr circa 2013 by angsty lovers battling the demons and desperation of unrequited love? Beyond that corner of the internet, this intriguing visualizer aesthetic of the “Do I Wanna Know?” music video is in part to thank for helping the Arctic Monkeys capture new audiences when it did.
Yet perhaps you’re simply wondering, “Who the F*** Are Arctic Monkeys?” — in which case, you’re in the right place. The group made its mark as an alternative rock band even long before the release of their breakout record, AM, and these six standout songs showcase the best of the Arctic Monkeys across their six studio albums.
6. “My Propeller“
Though the band’s 2009 record, Humbug, could be considered their most forgettable music, “My Propeller” is the strongest track that could’ve kicked it off. It’s grungy and mysterious, marking an artistic era that preceded frontman Alex Turner’s transition from swoopy-haired 20-something to slicked-back heartthrob.
5. “Black Treacle“
The second track of the Arctic Monkeys’ 2011 release Suck It and See, “Black Treacle” is lighthearted, sprinkled with fun guitar riffs and drum fills. In a relatable and self-deprecating closing to the first verse, Turner cleverly alludes to our silly, human tendency to play games with, “One of those games you’re gonna lose / But you wanna play it, just in case.” (Plus, who doesn’t want more British words like “treacle” in their vocabulary?)
4. “One Point Perspective“
Despite generally positive reviews from critics, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino received mixed opinions from fans. However, it’s more than worth a listen; “One Point Perspective” echoes the Americana and R&B vibes of beloved tunes from AM like “One for the Road” and ventures into the realm of pop with catchy piano chords. This track leaves the most lasting impression up against its counterparts — from its dynamic bassline to Turner’s captivating vocal performance.
3. “Mardy Bum“
On the Arctic Monkeys’ debut LP, this song starts out with a lazy surf-rock strumming progression before introducing its lament about a “mardy bum” (or in other words, a stick in the mud). Not only does it rock — along with the rest of Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not — but its lyrics mesh well with the band’s most raw, rebellious, and straightforward work.
As the chilling conclusion to Favourite Worst Nightmare, “505” has something of a cult following, likely thanks to its extreme quotability (“I’d probably still adore you with your hands around my neck / Or I did last time I checked”). One could say the entire song gradually builds in anticipation — opening with eerie organ chords, adding percussive rim taps and bass thumps that mock a quickening heartbeat — until it lets it all out within the last measures. You’ll hear what I mean.
With all tracks considered up until now, “Arabella” is like all the Arctic Monkeys’ best moments consolidated into one piece. We get the full range of Alex Turner’s snarling voice alongside the signature seductive, hip-swinging swagger unique to AM. The laid-back groove in the verses is a stark contrast to the chorus, which has no reservations about going full-forte on the electric guitar and crash cymbals. And just as Arabella herself is said to be “kind on the eyes,” her song is certainly kind on the ears.