Arctic Monkeys' Albums Ranked from Worst to Best

As the band tour behind their seventh LP, we're counting down the highlights of their catalogue

Photo: Chris Bubinas

BY Sydney Brasil, Alex Hudson, Megan LaPierre and Ben OkazawaPublished Aug 29, 2023

When Arctic Monkeys came to Canada in 2006, it felt a little bit like the Beatles coming to America in 1964: four British lads, barely out of their teens, seizing their moment and living up to their new fanbase's huge expectations.

These kids from Sheffield were barely old enough to be playing in the clubs they were headlining, but their music was already fully formed. While the British music press has long had a habit of over-hyping brand new bands, Arctic Monkeys made good on their on their potential — and they haven't slowed down since.

Growing from the spiky garage rock and slice-of-life lyrics of their earlier work, they've become increasingly ambitious — their arrangements have embraced randy funk, classic '60s songcraft, vibe-y desert rock and grand chamber pop, while frontman Alex Turner's lyrics have become playfully surreal and psychedelic. As Exclaim! staffers revisited the band's full catalogue while making this list, we were all surprised by the stand-out moments we had forgotten, as well as the consistency of the entirely discography.

As the band hit the road in North America, here are Arctic Monkeys' albums ranked from worst to best.

7. The Car (2022)

Arctic Monkeys don't really do anything wrong on the ornate, lavishly orchestral The Car; the trouble is, they don't really do quite enough right either. Alex Turner is in full lounge-lizard mode, playing piano rather than guitar and setting a vibe with grand string arrangements. But the sonic excess gets numbing over the course of 10 tracks, which sound great individually but blend into one when listening to the full album, which is low on hooks or stand-out moments. It may not be a show-stopper, but it's consistently pretty, and the fact that this is at the bottom of the list is a testament to the strength of the band's discography.
Alex Hudson

6. Humbug (2009)

Humbug's slow-burn approach acts as an abrupt departure from the charged-up garage approach that the Arctic Monkeys had so steadfastly established during their early years. The album's desert rock sound makes for a cohesive listen, but a uniform lack of flash is part of what drove it down the list. To their credit, the band do finally grasp the sound they were reaching for on "Cornerstone," which stands alone at the album's peak. 
Ben Okazawa

6. Suck It and See (2011)

Arctic Monkeys' fourth full-length came during a transitional (and oft-forgotten) period in the band's discography. The riotous uproar of their first two projects claws to the forefront on tracks like "Brick by Brick," "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" and "All My Own Stunts," while "Love Is a Laserquest" and "Suck It and See" exemplify the contemplative romance that highlights some of their later albums. Is Suck It and See a little all over the place stylistically? Maybe. It's the sound of Arctic Monkeys reinventing themselves, so to fault it for that would be a mistake — especially when it contains such potent individual tracks.
Ben Okazawa

4. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (2018)

After Alex Turner transformed into a sleazeball greaser for 2013's AM, he fully went off the deep end for the outlandish, ambitious follow-up. A loose sci-fi concept album about a luxury resort on the Moon, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is a truly weird baroque pop experiment in which the single, "Four Out of Five," is about a well-rated lunar taco shop. It's the most divisive Monkeys album — at least judging by the Exclaim! team's heated debates over Slack — but there's no questioning that the band really went for it here. Where else are you going to hear immaculate psych cabaret ballads called "The World's First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip" or "The Ultracheese"?
Alex Hudson

3. AM (2013)

In 2013, Arctic Monkeys asked a vitally important question: what if the Black Keys were hornier? In answering it, they defined a generation of blog-era teens, bringing flower crowns, knee socks and underage cigarette sales to an all-time high. It was a vision so strong that the nostalgia train came back for it a mere nine years later — and with good reason. AM solidified Alex Turner's vigour as a bandleader, transforming the Monkeys into a bonafide household name (as well as an incredible live band). Its sticky hooks and raunchy poetry are enough to make you yearn for a spot in the slick-backed void where only night — and someone else's apartment — exists.
Sydney Brasil

2. Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007)

"When did your list replace the twist and turn?" Alex Turner asks, the claw cutting through the fluff on "Teddy Picker" (sorry, dude). This latching imagery returns on "505" with a lover's hand — the Tumblr-quaking "I'd probably still adore you with your hands around my neck" — as the band's first proper love song unfolds around an Ennio Morricone organ sample, maintaining a head-bobbing, feeling-driven musical precision, smeared with the muck of reckless abandon; desperation, even.

It's all another variation on a theme, as the quartet avoid the sophomore slump by digging deeper into the grips the skyrocketing success their Mercury Prize-winning debut got them. Turner infuses his quippy lyrics with the ooze of real heartache and laments the trappings of fame, especially having to deal with so many poseurs. At his core, he's a hater — and a clever one at that — but he accesses some real feeling, as well as the ability to look beyond himself with the middle-aged exploits of closets evolving from fishnets to a night dress on "Fluorescent Adolescent."

Atop the loose-limbed knottiness of "Do Me a Favour," Turner advises, "Hold on to your heart," his own sounding moth-eaten as his croon sinks into the holes in the fabric, hungrier than ever in knowing that perhaps "fuck off" might be too kind.
Megan LaPierre

1. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006)

"Don't believe the hype," Alex Turner proclaimed before launching into an early TV performance of "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor." He must have been aware that a debut record as puffed up as Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not was almost doomed to fizzle; instead, its strength has kept Arctic Monkeys in orbit as one of the only lasting rock acts of the decade and a half since.

Even as the post-punk revival reached supernova in the years to follow, Whatever's tongue-in-cheek lyricism and strikingly warm guitars remained. Turner's tales of late-teenage hedonism may seem of their time and place now, but there's a charm to his early, unfiltered storytelling that was indicative of his bloom to come. In transporting the masses into Sheffield's youth nightlife, Arctic Monkeys' debut remains their opus. While other albums from the era have faded into the nostalgia of "You just had to be there," Whatever's strength is in making you feel like you were.
Sydney Brasil

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