Artist Of The Month – Arctic Monkeys (May 2018)

Arctic MonkeysUnarguably one of the most influential music outfits of the 21st century, Arctic Monkeys have held onto their position as one of the leading rock bands over the past decade, ever since their record breaking debut back in 2005. Led by Alex Turner, Arctic Monkeys have gone on to release a handful of singles, albums and EPs and toured extensively around the globe. And now, as the purveyors of modern rock gear up to unveil their sixth studio album, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino‘ on May 11, let us welcome our Artist of the Month for May 2018, Arctic Monkeys.

Formed in 2002 in Sheffield, consisting of vocalist Alex Turner, drummer Matt Helders, lead guitarist Jamie Cook and bassist Andy Nicholson (who quit the band in 2006), Arctic Monkeys began recording their demos in 2003, at the 2fly Studios, for their collection ‘Beneath The Boardwalk‘, which was burned onto CDs and given away to fans during gigs. This helped the band grow in popularity across north England, gaining attention from BBC Radio and the British press, and in 2005, Arctic Monkeys released their debut single ‘Five Minutes With Arctic Monkeys’, featuring a re-recording of fan favourite ‘Fake Tales Of San Francisco‘ and ‘From the Ritz to the Rubble‘. The release of the single saw their popularity rise due to attention from the music press, and the band was booked to play the Carling Stage at the Reading and Leeds Festival, drawing an unusually large crowd for a stage reserved for lesser known or unsigned bands.

The band was later signed onto Domino Records in mid 2005, who further licensed their Australian and New Zealand publishing rights to EMI and the Japanese rights to independent label Hostess. Their first single, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor‘ was released in October 2005, and went straight to No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart. The follow up single, ‘When The Sun Goes Down‘, released in January 2006 again went straight to No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, with very little advertising and marketing, leading to a shift in the ways new bands were achieving recognition. The two singles built up to the release of the band’s debut studio album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not‘, which saw a release on 23rd January 2006.

Quickly upon release, their massive LP became the fastest selling debut album in UK Chart history, besides securing a spot as the second fastest selling for a debut indie rock album in USA. Additionally, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ also went on to receive the Mercury Prize later that year. With another EP titled ‘Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?‘ which arrived soon after in April, the rapidly rising band witnessed the departure of Andy Nicholson later during 2006 before being replaced by Nick O’Malley. August 2006 brought about the release of their first single since Andy’s departure. Titled ‘Leave Before the Lights Come On‘, the track also turned out to be Arctic Monkeys’ first single which didn’t secure the No. 1 spot on the charts.

2007 saw the band release their sophomore studio album ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare‘ in April, featuring fan favourite singles such as ‘Fluorescent Adolescent‘, ‘Brianstorm‘, and ‘Teddy Picker‘. The LP also brought forward a change in style for the band musically as compared to its predecessor, with ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ being described as “very, very fast and very, very loud” and “more ambitious, heavier…and with a fiercely bright production“. The release of the album saw the band play a number of shows, including a headlining gig at Glastonbury in the same year, as well as numerous other festivals in Europe and America.

After a short hiatus post the release of ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’, the band got back together in the studio to record a total of 24 songs in 2008 and 2009 for their next album, ‘Humbug‘. The band debuted a bunch of tracks from the upcoming album, including the lead single ‘Crying Lightning‘ during their Australia and New Zealand tour. ‘Humbug‘ saw a release in August 2009 to positive reviews from the critics and fans alike, and was considered an important cog in the band’s new style and theme, both musically and lyrically. Arctic Monkeys later embarked on a world tour in support of the album, which saw headlining slots at Reading and Leeds Festival, EXIT Festival in Serbia, as well as a number of festivals across North America.

The band started recording their fourth album,’Suck It and See‘, in 2010 and 2011, and finally released in on 6th June 2011. A departure from the darker, more polarizing sounds of ‘Humbug’, ‘Suck It and See’ was a more “poppy and vintage record“, in the words of the albums producer James Ford and drummer Matt Helders. Opening to positive reviews from the critics yet again, the album did exceptionally well on charts globally, and the support tour saw them play headlining slots at festivals across Europe yet again, as well as Lollapalooza.

Post the release of ‘Suck It and See’, the band released their next single ‘R U Mine‘ in February, 2012, marking yet another shift to their sound, using falsetto and hip hop beats, in comparison to the indie and psychedelic rock sound that they had become known for. During the AM Tour in 2013 in Los Angeles, the band debuted a brand new song ‘Do I Wanna Know‘, while also releasing the official music video for the same in June 2013, making it the second single for their upcoming album.

The band finally released their new album ‘AM‘ in September 2013 to resounding success. Receiving critical acclaim from critics, as well as featuring on a number of year end lists, ‘AM’ went on to become one of Arctic Monkeys‘ most successful releases to date, commercially. The album drew inspiration from a number of musical genres, including psychedelic rock, blues rock, hard rock, heavy metal, desert rock, R&B, soul, and hip hop. The band embarked on a 150 show long promotional tour in support of the album, which spanned Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and South America.

The band announced a 2 year hiatus post the AM tour, with both Alex Turner and Matt Helders pursuing their side projects during this time. However, in an interview with BBC Radio Sheffield in 2016, Turner confirmed that the band’s hiatus had ended and they were working in the studio on a new album. Nick O’Malley confirmed that the band had begun recording the album in September 2017, and on 5th April 2018, the band announced the name of the upcoming album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino‘, with its release date set to be on the 11th May, 2018.

The sound of the album is a major departure from the band’s previous works, with the LP featuring a very lush and claustrophobic, jazz-influenced sound as a result of Alex Turner’s usage of piano in the composition, while the lyrics revolve around science fiction, and explores politics, religion and technology.