Ranking the Works of Alex Turner 8-1

 

Having released eight albums in the last ten years, Alex Turner has to be one of the hardest working musicians in the industry. But is all of it good? Including Arctic MonkeysThe Last Shadow Puppets and a solo EP, we rank his eight albums.

8. Submarine, Alex Turner, 2011

It’s probably unfair to rank this album being that it’s only five tracks long, (and a movie soundtrack), but it shows too much promise to be left off the list. Being Alex Turner’s first, and currently only, foray into solo recording it serves as an interesting indication as to what he would sound like if he suddenly decided to ditch his bandmates and go out on a limb. Submarine is simple yet elegant, with the tracks often featuring only Turner’s crooning voicewith minimalist guitar and piano work. This style of writing directs all attention to Turner’s signature witty and narrative-led lyrics, allowing gems like “You look like you’ve been for breakfast at the heartbreak hotel” to truly shine.

Lead Single: N/A
Underrated Gem: ‘Stuck on the Puzzle’

 

 

7. Everything You’ve Come to Expect, The Last Shadow Puppets, 2016

Alex Turner’s most recent work Everything You’ve Come to Expect is good, but easily his most inconsistent. Written and recorded with best friend Miles Kane, long-time producer James Ford, string arranger Owen Pallet and two members of Mini Mansions, the album has a lot of creative potential which it never lives up to. Whilst the complex orchestrations and trading vocals between Turner and Kane offer exciting possibilities, they quickly fizzle out, resulting in an album which never quite knows what it wants to be. Whilst tracks like ‘Miracle Aligner’ and ‘Aviation’ rank amongst Turner’s best work, messy tracks like ‘Bad Habits’ and ‘Sweet Dreams, TN’ sounds like two friends fucking around and cracking inside jokes which we’re not in on. Turner’s newfound swagger also manages to hit saturation point on this release and lyrics like “Baby, we ought to fuck” and “I ain’t got anything to lick without you baby” seem disappointingly ham-fisted and overly sleazy when compared with Turner’s other work.

Lead Single: ‘Bad Habits’
Underrated Gem: ‘Miracle Aligner’

 

 

6. AM, Arctic Monkeys, 2013

Although a lot of the Monkeys’ most recently acquired fans would call it sacrilege to rank AM anywhere but first on this list, the truth is that time hasn’t been kind to it. Whilst AM was undoubtedly the album that launched the four piece into super stardom, it’s starting to feel a bit same-same after three years. Although the slick production, thumping drum beats and smooth falsettos took everyone by surprise when the album first dropped, they sound pretty repetitive after the dust has settled. When listening to individual tracks the album is still excellent, but as a whole it sounds a bit monotonous. Even massive hit ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ pretty much sounds like a slower and sexier version of ‘R U Mine?’. The question mark isn’t all these songs have in common.

Lead Single: ‘R U Mine?’
Underrated Gem: ‘Knee Socks’

 

 

5. The Age of the Understatement, The Last Shadow Puppets, 2008

This album holds a special place in Turner’s discography as an early indicator of the great musical diversity that he’s capable of. The fast, catchy riffs of Arctic Monkeys’ first two albums are abandoned in favour of 12 tracks of baroque pop, complex orchestrations and duets with Miles Kane. Moreover, Turner’s yelpy and somewhat childish style of singing is replaced by a more mature attempt at crooning. Whilst the first two Monkeys albums make you feel like you’re wandering the streets of Sheffield with a couple of mates, The Age of the Understatement makes you feel like you’re in a 60s Bond picture. Seriously, how have these guys not written a theme for the series yet?

Lead Single: ‘The Age of the Understatement’
Underrated Gem: ‘Calm Like You’

 

 

4. Suck It And See, Arctic Monkeys, 2011

Definitely the most underrated album of the bunch. Whilst a lot of people see it simply as a stepping stone from the desert and stoner-influenced sounds of Humbug into the slick, sexy sounds of AM, it’s a fantastic and self-enclosed work. Just 40 minutes of pure, 60s inspired bliss, ranging from the heavy riffage and power of ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ to the honeyed sweetness of ‘Suck It and See’.

Lead Single: ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’
Underrated Gem: ‘Reckless Serenade’

 

 

3. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Arctic Monkeys, 2006

What can you say about this album that hasn’t already been said in the last decade? It’s an incredibly self-assured and confident piece of work, particularly when you consider that it was the band’s debut album and written when they were only 19. It introduced the world to the band’s unique blend of fast, catchy riffs and storytelling-styled lyricism. It’s not only an incredibly lively album, but also an honest, down-to-earth and surprisingly funny insight into growing up in England.

Lead Single: ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’
Underrated Gem: ‘A Certain Romance’

 

 

2. Favourite Worst Nightmare, Arctic Monkeys, 2007

Most of these points also apply to the Monkeys’ second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, which builds on all these characteristics to deliver another release of heavy riffage, fast drum fills and snarky observations. The only real complaint you could level at this album is that it’s pretty indistinguishable from their debut. But is that really such a bad thing?

Lead Single: ‘Brianstorm’
Underrated Gem: ‘This House Is A Circus’

 

 

1. Humbug, Arctic Monkeys, 2009

Perhaps this tried and tested formula would’ve gotten boring quickly, or perhaps it would still be working. We’ll never know because Arctic Monkeys decided to completely change tack on their third album Humbug, abandoning the sounds of these first two albums in favour of a darker, slower, more psychedelic and complex sound. This album truly marks the point when Alex Turner grew up. Contrary to how it may sound on first listen, the intensity of the first two albums is still present, particularly on tracks like ‘Pretty Visitors’ and ‘Dance Little Liar’. In addition to this, the band add additional musical flourishes and lyrical riddling. The album is the true definition of a musical grower, with its bizarre complexities and intentionally vague lyrics revealing new surprises on each listen.

Lead Single: ‘Crying Lightning’
Underrated Gem: ‘Dance Little Liar’

 

About Mark Royters

Many years ago I was given an Arctic Monkeys EP. Everything changed from that moment onwards. I'm a Sydney-based music writer, reviewer and interviewer.

View all posts by Mark Royters

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