The fifth studio album from Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys released last week, has become the fastest selling album in 6 years with 100,000 copies sold in the first 2 days.
With such critical acclaim and fan excitement surrounding the release, it is reminiscent of the quartets’ early days when they firt burst onto the indie scene.
Forming in 2002, four High Green lads went on to become one of the most iconic bands of this decade. Spending time earning their stripes and gaining experience playing local venues, most notably the now closed down Boardwalk in Sheffield. These shows attracted plenty of talk among many in the city which soon filtered through to critics and music industry people.
In 2005, they released ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’ through their ‘Bang Bang’ label which led to playing the Carling stage at Reading and Leeds, a set hyped so much by music press it attracted a huge crowd.
Artic Monkeys released their first official single ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ through Domino Records on 17th October, going straight in at number 1, becoming a modern anthem and making them a household name. The band released their debut album ‘Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not’ the same year which became the fastest selling debut in UK chart history selling 363, 735 copies in its first week. Earning all their success through hard work, playing gigs and writing good songs with little marketing and their MySpace page set up by fans, they gained respect from a stale music industry.
Their debut was named the ‘5th Greatest British Album of All Time’ by NME. Shortly after, they toured the world and won a plethora of awards including the Mercury Music Prize. A mere year later Artic Monkeys released their second effort ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ which mirrored their previous success going straight in at Number 1, and gaining more awards. It also gave the band their first festival headline opportunity at the prestigious Glastonbury Festival, a slot that cemented the band’s place as one of the most exciting UK exports in recent times.
After a small break which saw frontman Alex Turner work with Miles Kane on The Last Shadow Puppets, the Steel City four piece geared up to release album three, the Josh Homme produced ‘Humbug’. It saw the band grow up and move away from their trademark indie sound by incorporating more rock into the fore and using classic acts as inspiration. It was an album that had split opinion; some loved it, some hated it – they gained new fans and had critics polarised too. It certainly showed a progression, especially lyrically, Clash Magazine’s Simon Harper commented in an album preview that the band had; “completely defied any expectations or presumptions to explore the depths they can reach when stepping foot outside their accepted styles.” This didnt deter the band from getting another Number 1 album, and gaining the headline slot in 2009’s, Reading and Leeds Festival.
Their fourth release ‘Suck It And See’ saw the band return to glory, taking nostalgia tinged sounds and rock influences of their previous effort made more accessible, when mixed with their old school sound. Again, it went straight to Number 1, the band now one of only two acts to have 4 debut albums go straight to the top spot. Headlining festivals all over the world from iTunes and V in the UK, to Oxegen in Ireland and Benecassim in Spain – they rounded off this cycle with a return to the place it all started, Sheffield. Two massive sold out shows at Don Valley Bowl in June 2011 silenced criticism that they had forgotten their Northern roots.
The hype surrounding album 5 was huge from the moment AM’s ‘R U Mine?’ was released on their YouTube channel in February 2012. After a performance at last summer’s Olympic Opening Ceremony and a killer second headline set at 2013’s Glastonbury Festival, it was clear that the Arctic Monkeys were still important. Their new album features guest appearances and yet another growth in sound with the addition of old school R’n’B to the mix, all creating a more mature Monkeys.
Greeted with positive reviews and fan hysteria, ‘AM’ has already been nominated for 2013’s Mercury Prize 2 days after release, and has become the band’s 5th Number 1 album. A feat most band’s these days would find difficult to replicate and proving these four Sheffield boys have become musical greats sure to be remembered and celebrated long after they’ve gone.
Written by Charlotte Pearson