Why Arctic Monkeys' AM is their most important album

9 September 2023, 13:00

Alex Turner at Glastonbury Festival 2013 with Arctic Monkey's AM album artowork inset
Arctic Monkeys' AM album is seven years old. Picture: 1. Dave J Hogan/Getty Images 2. Press/Album artwork

As the Sheffield rocker's fifth studio effort turns 10, we look back at the most pivotal album in the band's career.

On 9th September 2013, Arctic Monkeys unleashed their absolute BEAST of an album AM onto the public.

Their fifth studio album included a collection bangers such as R U Mine?, Arabella, Do I Wanna Know?, Snap Out Of It and Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High? - taking the band to a whole new level.

Alex Turner and co's 2006 debut Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not may have won them the Mercury Prize, but one could argue it's their AM album, which actually cemented their longevity as one of Britain's biggest exports of the last 20 years.

Find out why here...

  1. It saw the band break America

    Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys performs onstage during The 24th Annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Shrine Auditorium on December 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
    Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys performs onstage during The 24th Annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Shrine Auditorium on December 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Picture: Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images

    Many British bands go on to be cult icons on the other side of the pond, but very rarely do they manage to break the States entirely.

    The success of AM in the States cannot be understated. Ask many an American fan what their favourite Arctic Monkeys album is, and they'll tell you that for them, their fifth effort is where their love of the band truly began.

    By the time they released Humbug in 2009, Alex Turner and co were a successful touring band in America, but AM smashed through any remaining closed doors and catapulted the band to mainstream success in the US.

  2. It saw them headline Glastonbury for the second time

    Arctic Monkeys top the bill at Glastonbury 2013
    Arctic Monkeys top the bill at Glastonbury 2013. Picture: Alamy

    Don't get us wrong. Arctic Monkeys were well known when they headlined the world-famous festival in 2007 as four shy lads from West Yorkshire.

    But by 2013, with four albums under their belt and a fifth on its way, they were considered one of the most prominent rock acts around. And Emily Eavis agreed, having booked them without hearing so much as a note of AM.

    Due to headline Glastonbury in June 2013, two months before their album was released in September, the band played Do I Wanna Know? their pulsating album opener which had only been shared a week before, while including the brand spanking new Mad Sounds and R U Mine? in their set.

    It was a bold move but it saw the band go from an indie phenomenon to a world-class act overnight.

  3. It saw them work with Josh Homme again

    Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme had previously worked with the band on their Humbug album and was now set to add his influence once more by providing backing vocals to two songs on the album.

    Turner called Homme's contribution something he'd "never heard before" telling the BBC: "He came down and sort of got us out of a little rut."

  4. It rebranded the band and saw Alex Turner adopt a West Coast swagger

    Arctic Monkeys in 2014
    Arctic Monkeys in 2014. Picture: Press/Sebastian Kim

    You can't talk about Arctic Monkeys' AM era without mentioning the change in the band's style.

    Gone were the shaggy indie cuts and scruffy jeans and out came the slicked-backed greaser-style look, completed by leather jackets or sharp blazers.

    As the frontman - Alex fully embraced this persona and it was arguably at this point that he adopted more of an American drawl.

  5. It's title and its artwork was simple but iconic

    Arctic Monkeys AM album artwork
    Arctic Monkeys AM album artwork. Picture: Press

    AM and its artwork was as simple as it was genius.,

    Alex Turner admitted he got the idea from The Velvet Underground. “I actually stole it from the Velvet Underground, I’ll just confess that now and get it out of the way. The ‘VU’ record, obviously,” he told the BBC in 2013.

    He added: “Summat about it feels like this record is exactly where we should be right now. So it felt right to just initial it.”

    Josh Homme also said he liked the title because that's when he thought you should listen to the album... In the early hours.

    As reported by NME in 2013, the Queens Of The Stone Age rocker revealed at the Rock For People festival in the Czech Republic: "I sang on the new Arctic Monkeys record. It's a really cool, sexy after-midnight record. It's called AM, so I guess that's really obvious. And it's really good. It's really good."

    Meanwhile, the album's accompanying artwork matched its understated title, with its waveform making the perfect nod to the AM signal.

    The iconic artwork has since gone on to represent the band, with many of their fans opting to get the famous soundwave etched on their bodies forever.

  6. It relaunched the band after Humbug and Suck It And See

    Arctic Monkeys - Do I Wanna Know (Radio X Session)

    Both albums were critical and commercial successes and reached No.1 on the UK album charts.

    They saw the band toy with yet more instruments and styles as James Ford took on producing duties for both (Josh Homme of course produced on Humbug).

    While adding some great additions to their setlist, it was AM that got Arctic Monkeys' fans as well as non-believers the attention the band deserved... and earned the band BRIT Awards for British Album of the Year and and Best British Group.

  7. It saw the band fuse of R&B and hip-hop with rock

    Arctic Monkeys - Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High? (Official Video)

    Not content to rest on their laurels, Arctic Monkeys had always toyed with their sound with every album they released by blending their brand of UK indie with the likes of psych rock, heavy metal and more.

    But AM saw them go one further, drawing on influences from the world of hip-hop and R&B, while managing to retain what was intrinsic to the band's charm.

    Speaking to NME, Turner described the album as "like a Dr. Dre beat, but we've given it an Ike Turner bowl-cut and sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster".

    Needless to say... it paid off massively, with songs such as Do I Wanna Know? and Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High? still favourites to this day.

    10 years later and the band have gone on to experiment with their sound even further, going on to release Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino and The Car albums in 2018 and 2023 respectively.

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