Who Sounds like Arctic Monkeys?
Most frequently categorized as an indie rock band, the Arctic Monkeys formed in 2002 in a suburb of Sheffield, South Yorkshire. The band members learned how to play their instruments by covering White Stripes songs before frontman Alex Turner began writing original lyrics for the group to perform.
Their initial success was exclusively local, but their passionate fanbase popularized the band by spreading their demos across the Internet. Every Arctic Monkeys album brings a more nuanced sound than the last, as their work has transformed from “chip-shop rock & roll” to affect a “magical realism.”
If You Like Arctic Monkeys, You May Like…
The Arctic Monkeys draw inspiration from a number of influential performers to make their music. Artists like Jimi Hendrix, Cream, John Lennon, The Smiths, and Black Sabbath have all influenced the sound that prevails throughout the five-album discography of the band.
Many bands like Arctic Monkeys got their start with independent record labels. An emphasis on smart lyrics and varied musical expression drives similar artists such as:
- The Black Keys
- Cage the Elephant
- The Strokes
- The Vaccines
- Vampire Weekend
Artists like Arctic Monkeys occupy a distinct cross-section of music genres including indie rock, psychedelic rock, post-punk, and garage rock. All of these genres make the most of traditional instruments such as guitars, drums, bass, and keyboards, but strive to use the classics in inspired or unique ways. Arctic Monkeys, for example, utilize traditional rock sounds like dominant guitar and brash drums while also incorporating hip-hop beats inspired by performers like Dr. Dre and Outkast.
In addition to the playful blurring of genres, indie rock prominently features sensitive lyrics focused on everyday human life. Often, songs produced by bands similar to Arctic Monkeys use allusions to literature or tell their own story.
A four-member group, Arctic Monkeys is comprised of lyricist, lead vocalist, and guitarist Alex Turner; lead and rhythm guitarist Jamie Cook; bassist and backing vocalist Nick O’Malley; and drummer and backing vocalist Matt Helders. The band is cited as one of the first to reach the public’s attention by way of the Internet.
While playing local gigs back in Sheffield, the Arctic Monkeys distributed copies of their song demos to fans, and the collection of these albums was later dubbed Beneath the Boardwalk. The band’s following created a MySpace page to facilitate the spread of their music, which helped catapult the group to mainstream popularity.
When the band formed in 2002, all the members were teenagers who had no intention of becoming famous. The distinct sound created by Turner’s rapidly delivered lyrics in his Sheffield accent made them easily recognizable to fans. As demand for Arctic Monkeys music grew, the band started attracting attention from BBC Radio and British tabloids.
After a limited release of an EP the group recorded themselves, Arctic Monkeys was picked up by record label Domino in 2005. The DIY-focus of the label allowed them to reach a larger audience but maintain control over their sound. Their first single released through Domino, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” went straight to the number one spot on the UK Singles Chart.
Arctic Monkeys first full-length album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, broke sales records during the week of its release in the UK and experienced moderate success in the United States. Less than four months after the January release of their first album, the group recorded and released a five-track EP called Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys that, due to graphic language, did not receive much radio play or notable success. Soon thereafter, original bassist Andy Nicholson was replaced by current member Nick O’Malley.
The band’s second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, was released in 2007 and immediately enjoyed the same level of success in the UK as their first. The album as a whole, as well as many individual songs on the record, won several awards in the US and the UK. Due to their newfound widespread recognition, Arctic Monkeys headlined the Glastonbury Festival that same year.
As frontman Alex Turner worked on music side projects, it took two years for the band to release a third album, Humbug. Though the record brought a notable change in sound for the group, Humbug still rocketed to the number one spot on the UK charts. Arctic Monkeys fourth album, Suck It and See, also featured a pronounced difference from their previous sound but prevailed as a chart-topping record.
The group’s fifth album, AM, was preceded by distinguishing singles like “Do I Wanna Know?” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”. When the record dropped in the fall of 2013, it debuted at number one on the UK charts and solidified the Arctic Monkeys’ place in history as the first independent label band to release five consecutive number one albums in the United Kingdom.
With five studio albums, seven Brit awards, and three Grammy nominations, Arctic Monkeys undeniably bring an inspired sound to the music industry. Nearly all the records in their five-album discography is distinguishable by experimental changes in the band’s overall sound.
From down-and-dirty rock and roll to beat-driven, pulsing dance numbers, the band tends to defy categorization. Earlier songs fit the post-punk genre and focus on Turner’s inquisitive and raw lyrics, while their latest work has been described as “shimmery” and “intergalactic,” fitting more of a psychedelic rock classification.
- Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006) – Fastest-selling debut album in UK chart history, featuring the notable single “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”.
- Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007) – Described as “very, very fast and very, very loud,” the album sound was influenced heavily by The Smiths.
- Humbug (2009) – Brought more experimental sounds from the band and featured the single “Crying Lightning”.
- Suck It and See (2011) – Sold over 82,000 copies during the first week of sales, knocking renowned pop artist Lady Gaga’s Born This Way off the top spot of the charts.
- AM (2013) – Hailed as the best album of 2013, the record features prominent singles like “R U Mine?” and “Do I Wanna Know?”.