TBL 10th Anniversary Series: Celebrating 10 Years of Arctic Monkeys

Image courtesy of Neon Tommy/Flickr

Johanna Ramirez

This year marks the tenth anniversary of The Bottom Line. To mark this celebration, TBL will be revisiting media from 10 years past, starting with Arctic Monkey’s first album, released in January 2006 and entitled Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. The Grammy-Nominated act is one of the most successful indie-rock bands to come from the U.K. Their music is a mix of dance, neo-punk and indie-rock with influences from The Strokes, The White Stripes and The Vines, among others. They are credited as being one of the first music acts to have accumulated their popularity mainly through the internet, primarily MySpace.

The band consists of four members: Alex Turner, Matt Helders, Jamie Cook and Nick O’Malley, who all originate from Sheffield, England. The band gained popularity from playing at local shows around their hometown as well as through their MySpace page. The fan base was created mainly through the Internet, something that happened without the help of a label.

Their musical style was different in a time where there were many other bands on the music scene. This garnered the attention of record labels, but they decided to sign with smaller label Domino instead.

Their first album is an instant rock classic with its rebellious lyrics and attention-grabbing guitar riffs. It was the fastest selling album in U.K. chart history during that time (it has since been beaten by Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle). The album’s first single “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” was a smash hit in the U.K. and was the catalyst for their entire career. The energy of this track is presented right from the start with Turner’s fast vocals and rapid chord progressions.

The rest of the album is composed of wordy lyrics by frontman Alex Turner and rapid drums from drummer Matt Helders. Other notable tracks include “Mardy Bum,” with its simple yet powerful guitar chords, and “When the Sun Goes Down,” which was inspired by the prostitution they witnessed in Sheffield.

The album cover features Chris McClure (a friend of The Arctic Monkeys) smoking a cigarette. The back cover of the record features an ashtray full of cigarette butts. This brought controversy to the band, with critics saying the picture “reinforces the idea that smoking is Ok,” according to thefw.com. In response to this, their manager Johnny Bradshaw told BBC.com “you can see from the image that smoking is not doing him any good.” Despite these claims, the band chose to keep the photo anyway.

Since then, Arctic Monkeys have released four commercially successful studio albums: Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007), Humbug (2009), Suck It and See (2011) and AM (2013). Arctic Monkeys have changed their musical style multiple times since their first album, having transitioned from dance indie-punk to stoner rock to the sleek rock sound on their newest record.

In this most recent effort, Alex Turner’s vocal nonchalance is one of the key components as well as the high pitched background vocals (primarily in the track “Do I Wanna Know?”), which are accompanied by smooth guitar lines. Turner’s style has changed with him transitioning from a shy teen into a confident and sultry performer. He now dawns a greaser look that is quite similar to that of Elvis Presley.

Some notable performances from their career include the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics, headlining festivals such as Austin City Limits (ACL) and Glastonbury. The band has also had five headlining tours since the debut of their first album.

Arctic Monkeys have been on hiatus since their last performance on Aug. 24, 2014 in the Leeds Festival in the U.K. In regards to this hiatus, drummer Matt Helders said, “There isn’t any rush to do something else yet. For now this album seems like a place to leave for a bit,” reported Telegraph. No word yet on when they will bless the world with another album, but until then, their music library is worth taking a look at.