The times Arctic Monkeys changed their sound
11 May 2020, 14:26 | Updated: 11 May 2020, 14:37
Radio X takes a look at how Alex Turner has continued to evolve the band's music... and his own image.
2018 saw Arctic Monkeys release their sixth studio album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Teased as being "not a guitar-heavy record," Alex Turner revealed that a lot of the material was written on the piano and was inspired by everyone from Leonard Cohen to Dion.
But it wasn't the first time the band were experimental or steered away from traditional indie guitar rock. Come with us as we take you through some of their previous work, which showed that Turner always had his eyes on the next step.
Arctic Monkeys - Pretty Visitors
What’s that? A keyboard?! This keys-led Humbug track showed what Turner could do with the ivories, which were to be showcased later even further on Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.
Arctic Monkeys - Matador
Matador sees Arctic Monkeys doing their best impression of Pink Floyd's The Wall. Though it was only released as a bonus track on the Japanese version of Favourite Worst Nightmare, it proved Turner had been dipping his toe into the psychedelic back catalogue.
Arctic Monkeys – The Jeweller's Hands
We could pick almost anything off of Humbug, but the album’s dying tune sees the band disappearing into a cloud of smoke. Weird lyrics aside, this tune definitely sees the Monkeys flexing their muscles and showing us that they were perfectly happy producing sleepy, ghoulish-sounding psychedelic tracks by the time their third album came around.
Arctic Monkeys – Why’d You Only Call Me When Your High?
A balls to the wall RnB tune, WYOCMWYH took Arctic Monkeys out of their rock n’ roll safe house and dropped them... well, who the hell knows where?
Alex Turner - Hiding Tonight
Completely stripped back, we hear A LOT of Alex Turner on the song, which comes from his Submarine soundtrack. The traditional love song is given the gloomy Turner treatment.
Arctic Monkeys – Do Me A Favour
Do Me A Favour is an example of some of Turner's finest songwriting to date.
Alex Turner – It Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (Tame Impala cover)
Turner, and the whole Monkeys gang, are BIG Tame Impala fans. They just LOVE that modern day psychedelia. And here’s Turner performing one of their songs!
The Last Shadow Puppets – The Dream Synopsis
OK, so it's not strictly a Monkeys track, but who can ignore some of the work Turner has done with Miles Kane in The Last Shadow Puppets. Piano? Yep. Weird lyrics? Yep. Strange plodding melody that doesn’t really go anywhere? OH YEAH.
Iggy Pop – Gardenia
Wait, what? Alex Turner isn’t THE ONLY member of Arctic Monkeys? That’s right. Iggy Pop’s fuzzy, desert kissed album Post Pop Depression features Matt Helders on drums and the influences will no doubt filter into the Monkeys' work.
Arctic Monkeys – 505
When in doubt, go to 505. A fan favourite, 505 perfectly bridges early Monkeys’ curiosity with the wiser, more considered Arctics that followed. It’s vast, patient, and that piano hook is even a sample. It’s the perfect example of Turner and co breaking out of their shell, doing something different, and absolutely smashing it.
Arctic Monkeys - Four Out Of Five
It's impossible to bring up Arctic Monkeys changing their sound without bringing up their last album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Released on 11 May 2018, the quasi-concept album saw Turner largely ditch guitars in favour of the piano when it came to songwriting. What he got was a 70s lounge-lizard-meets futuristic sound.
Its lead track Four Out Of Five is a stunning example of how they managed to pull it off.