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An Introduction To The Arctic Monkeys In 10 Songs

Arctic Monkeys | © wonker/Flickr
Picture of Martha Wright
Updated: 6 February 2016
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The Arctic Monkeys are likely to have graced your speakers more than a few times since their beginning as a teenage four-part band from Sheffield back in 2002. Now a household name and still going strong after those 14 years, Alex Turner has lead us through his own musical and emotional journey as lead singer of an indie rock band. The following ten songs show the band growing in both their personal and musical lives.

‘Mardy Bum’ (2002)

During the band’s early days, the voice of Alex Turner is what’s really pushing the Arctic Monkeys forward. Passionate and empowering — with a northern twang — it’s his voice that grabs the attention of the first of many future Arctic Monkeys fans. ‘Mardy Bum’ — a song about a girl — is an honest reflection. It deals with the normalities of relationships in an almost nostalgic manner — going through mood swings — but reminding himself of the laughing and joking of romance even if ‘on a day like today, you’re argumentative.’

‘I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor’ (2002)

Even if you’re not too familiar with the band, ‘I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor’ is likely to have crossed your path, and it is definitely the one that will get you up and dancing. One of their simpler songs, its assertive lyrics and lusty suggestions make it one of The Arctic Monkeys’ most iconic tunes.

‘Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But’ (2002)

The title is perhaps the most enticing aspect of this song. Ending on a connective creates allure, and the raw vocals layered on top of a strong bass line keep you listening. The song lacks maturity, but it also epitomises the teenage angst coming from the Sheffield quartet, fighting back against the people of their hometown.

‘505’ (2007)

505′ is the final track of their second album, and one that is often underrated. It creates a pleasant ending that leaves listeners with a tear in their eye. The emotionally strained — yet soulful — voice of Alex Turner through the band’s first love song is the warming hug that you need.

‘Crying Lightning’ (2009)

Particularly sinister, ‘twisted and deranged’ with a video directed by Richard Ayoade, the band’s egocentric side comes forward in this track with eerie lyrics reminiscent of childhood tales buying sweets from the corner shop. The track marks a turn in the band’s aesthetic towards much darker material.

‘Dangerous Animals’ (2009)

‘Dangerous Animals’ elicits an eerily haunting vibe on a different perspective to a love song than you’ve seen from him before. The track has dark sombre and murky undertones, which match the rest of the album Humbug. The spooky atmosphere lures you in to create one of their strongest songs to date. It’s one of those songs that on first listen is just undeniably fantastic.

‘Pile Driver Waltz’ (2011)

An oxymoron in its name and first released on the soundtrack of Submarine by Richard Ayoade, ‘Pile Driver Waltz’ demonstrates the calmer side to the Arctic Monkeys, with an almost nostalgic feel to the lyrics from the suggestively named album Suck It And See. Alex Turner named himself a ‘romantic fool’ for the acoustic vibes that appear on this track. It shows a side to the band not seen before, mixing the aggression of a pile driver to the loving intimate dance of a waltz.

‘Don’t Sit Down Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair’ (2011)

An album with the least eloquent track names, ‘Don’t Sit Down Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair’ pairs Alex Turner’s Yorkshire accent with a more mature undertone. Although not the most representative of the album, its beginning to feel like the Arctic Monkeys are growing up with the release of this track despite the immature title saying otherwise.

‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ (2011)

Off the band’s fourth album, ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ is a clear example of moving toward a more serious tone and away from their angsty teenage beginnings while still producing high-quality songs. The lyric-less chorus is confident and exuberant, creating a seductive scene for Turner to embellish with his juvenile lyrics.

‘Do I Wanna Know’ (2013)

‘Do I Wanna Know,’ from the band’s latest album, breaks all the rules as far as mainstream indie rock goes. With an unusual structure — including three pre-choruses — Alex Turner is enticing his listeners, keeping them interested. ‘Do I Wanna Know’ epitomises the band’s desire to keep their tracks fresh and new, constantly pushing forward listeners’ expectations.

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