The Arctic Monkeys have remained one of the best rock bands of the 21st century and their performance at the Qudos Bank Arena last Saturday proved it. One of the key reasons fans are drawn to them isn’t just their loud, energetic stadium filling sound, but how this sound is a vehicle for some expertly crafted lyrics. Lead singer Alex Turner has continuously evolved as a songwriter, and his latest album, Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, has some of his best visual imagery to date. Showcasing this depth, we’ve picked out our top lines. Disagree?
“Well, oh, they might wear classic Reeboks
Or knackered Converse
Or tracky bottoms tucked in socks.”
A Certain Romance – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not (2006)
After a heavy rock intro followed by the light guitar riff, Turner paints a clear and concise image of the chavs that plagued his area, robbing it off beauty and romance with violence and hooliganism. Written back when he was just a humble 19-year-old from Sheffield, this line perfectly encapsulates what makes the early Arctic Monkeys feel so real.
"Have you been drinking, son? You don't look old enough to me."
"I'm sorry, officer, is there a certain age you're supposed to be? Because nobody told me."
Riot Van – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not (2006)
This line stands out from all the others not only for demonstrating an enviable level of teenage rebelliousness, but for the way the way the music is so happy and carefree that it mimics these rebellious children who, in the face of a riot van, “couldn’t care less”.
“I’ve still got pictures of friends on the wall.”
The Ultracheese – Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino (2018)
The only line from their latest album to make it on this list, The Ultracheese boasts some painfully real lyrics from Turner as he explores themes of detachment and isolation. What sets this apart from the rest of the songs on the album? Without all the frills of images like living on the moon at the Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, this is just Turner reminiscing on the lost simplicity of his life. The piano builds up and up before Turner, who gives a conservative and reserved vocal performance on the album, belts out this line with all the raw emotion and relatability that got him to the big dance in the first place.
“Everything's in order in a black hole,
nothing seems as pretty as the past though.
That Bloody Mary's lacking in Tabasco,
remember when you used to be a rascal?”
Fluorescent Adolescent – Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007)
Favourite Worst Nightmare seems to strike the perfect balance between the wild and imaginative creativity of later Alex Turner with the humble simplicity and authentic relatability of young Alex Turner. Fluorescent Adolescent is this balance in a nutshell. It explores the idea that life isn’t as fun when you’re older, while creatively conjuring sad images of boredom and mundane monotony.
“She's a silver lining, lone ranger riding through an open space”
“In my mind when she's not right there beside me I go crazy”
R U Mine? – AM (2014)
Everything that could be said about the metaphors of ‘Pretty Visitors’ with the thunderous stadium rock sound of ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ combines for the debut single off Arctic Monkey’s biggest album. This line from ‘R U Mine?’is used repeatedly, with the final time it comes in after the solo being used to strip back all the instrumentation and tease the audience. It builds to the final climax of the song, leaving them exhausted.
“But I crumble completely when you cry”
505 - Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007)
Listen to the song and tell us we’re wrong.
The entire first verse of ‘From The Ritz to the Rubble’
From The Ritz to the Rubble — Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)
Yes, this is cheating, but the entire first verse of ‘From The Ritz To The Rubble’ is perfection. It tells not only the most relatable story in Arctic Monkeys’ discography, but in the 21st century. Anyone who has experience modern nightlife has experienced this amazingly accurate tale. Any further discussion does not do it justice.