Is Arctic Monkeys' When The Sun Goes Down their darkest track?

18 January 2019, 15:26

This week marked 13 years since Arctic Monkeys' single was released. Join us as we delve into the second cut from their debut album.

It's been a whopping 13 years since Arctic Monkeys released their When the Sun Goes Down single on 16 January 2006.

The second cut to be taken from the band's debut album - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - the track told the dark tale of prostitution in the Neepsend area of Sheffield.

Watch the Paul Fraser directed video, which starred Lauren Socha (Misfits) and Stephen Graham (This Is England) above.

If the 3:28 promo isn't enough to make you feel bad, then Scummy Man (the longer film which it was taken from) definitely will.

Arctic Monkeys' When the Sun Goes Down artwork
Arctic Monkeys' When the Sun Goes Down artwork. Picture: Press

Like the song, which is also known as Scummy Man, it tells the dismal story of a prostitute (Nina) and what appears to be her unscrupulous pimp.

Told from the perspective of a concerned narrator, we're given a snapshot of the young woman's life as he wonders set of circumstances led to her unfortunate position".

"So who's that girl there?I wonder what went wrong/So that she had to roam the streets/ She don't do major credit cards/I doubt she does receipts"

Alex Turner doesn't stop there though, conjuring up images of the life of the opportunistic "scumbag" beside her who forces her out onto the streets, leaving her at risk to sexually transmitted diseases and probable acts of violence.

Despite the lyrics packing a punch, Alex Turner didn't have to dig as deep for them as you might think.

Like much of Arctic Monkeys debut album, the frontman evoked the sights and sounds of his surroundings and it is said the band would witness similar sights in Neepsend near their rehearsal rooms.

The refrain: "They said it changes when the sun goes down," perfectly encapsulates how areas can completely transform at night, forcing you to see another side to the city.

As reported by the NME, Alex Turner said of the area."You’d see a bloke with a carrier bag or summat and it’s like, ‘What the fuck is he doing here at this time of the night?’ Or you’d be packing your guitars away and somebody’d walk past and be like ‘How much is one of them worth?"

Though he may have never met a "scummy man," as frightening as Stephen Graham's character in the short film, it wouldn't have been too difficult to use one of the real-life people he encountered and transform him into the frightful pimp we witness in their video.

When The Sun Goes Down might have been fictional, but it's undoubtable that it came from a very real place and captured the reality of some of the povery-stricken desperation he witnessed in that area of the South Yorkshire city.

It's hard to say whether it's Alex Turner's most dark and depressing track, but it's certainly one of his most raw and honest.

And whether or not the frontman thinks much of the song now compared to his later works, we're just glad he never sold that guitar.

READ MORE: What is the story behind Arctic Monkeys Mardy Bum?

Watch them play their Mardy Bum track in Sheffield: