News of the Arctic Monkeys’ U.K. success initially had to be viewed skeptically. They were yet another band who wore their Jam, Clash and Smiths influences on their sleeve. Toss in the White Stripes, Vines, Libertines and a scruffier take on Franz Ferdinand for mainstream accessibility.
Yet even for the U.K., it looked as though the Arctic Monkeys were the real deal.
Their first single, “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor,” debuted at #1 on the singles chart. Impressive? Okay, while that almost never happens in the U.S., it does occur on occasion in the U.K.
Then came the ’06 release of their album “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.” This is where it got interesting. Having a hit single is no big deal but transferring that success to an album is a different story.
Within days of its release the album sold nearly 120,000 copies in the U.K., which was more than the rest of the Top 20 album chart combined.
“Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” won the ‘06 Mercury Prize (or Nationwide Mercury Prize) for the best British or Irish album of the previous 12-months. The following year they nailed Best British Group at the BRIT Awards (British Recording Industry Trust).
Arctic Monkeys unfurled “Favourite Worst Nightmare” which demonstrated a little wider aperture.
Work on the group’s third album, “Humbug,” began in January, ’08. The set was produced by Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme (in Rancho De La Luna) and James Ford (in New York). 24 songs were distilled to the dozen that made the album.
The set’s first single, “Crying Lightning,” made its debut at #12 on the U.K. Top 40 but did much better on the U.K. Top 40 Indie Chart (#1). And just to keep from being regarded solely as a U.K. phenomenon Arctic Monkeys played Lollapalooza ‘09 in Chicago.
A worldwide tour followed the release of “Humbug.” Then the Arctic Monkeys holed up at Sound City Studios in L.A. to lay down tracks for their ’11 release “Suck It And See.” “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” was the lead single.
“Suck It And See” went to #1 in the U.K. making it their fourth straight album to top the chart.
The following year, Arctic Monkeys performed “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” and a cover of The Beatles’ song “Come Together,” with Paul McCartney, at the London Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Their version of “Come Together” peaked at #21 on the U.K. Singles Chart, becoming Arctic Monkeys best pop chart showing since ’09’s “Crying Lightning.”
They headlined ‘13’s Southside Festival in Germany before announcing that the title of their fifth album was “AM.”
“AM” is a different title. How did it come about?
“I actually stole it (the idea) from the Velvet Underground, I’ll just confess that now and get it out of the way,” frontman/guitarist Alex Turner told BBC Radio 1. “The ‘VU’ record, obviously.”
The lead single was “Do I Wanna Know?”
AM sold 42,000 copies in its first week, and debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming the band’s highest charting album in the U.S. Four years later the album was certified platinum.
So why was there a five-year gap between “AM” and the group’s next effort “Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino”?
Well, Turner put out the second album from his other band, The Last Shadow Puppets (“Everything You’ve Come To Expect”), while drummer Matt Heiders worked on Iggy Pop’s “Post Pop Depression.”
With those projects completed Turner began writing songs on his Steinway piano for the group’s Sci-Fi influenced sixth album.
Produced by Turner and frequent Arctic Monkeys collaborator James Ford, “Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino” featured many vocals taken from Turner’s home demos. The album topped the U.S. Rock Album chart and peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200.
The band’s seventh studio album, “The Car,” was a 10-track collection written or co-written by Turner.