Gary Flockhart: Monkeys raise bar higher with AM

Alex Turner. Pic: Robert Perry
Alex Turner. Pic: Robert Perry
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IN January of 2006 a gang of four by the name of Arctic Monkeys came to the Corn Exchange to show us what they were all about.

By then, the hype surrounding the Sheffield teenagers had already reached previously unknown levels and the excitement inside the venue was palpable as they took to the stage.

The buzz had been caused, not only by the music itself, but because of the way they became successful. It started with them giving out demos at their early gigs. As word of mouth spread, fans started to share them online, fuelling the growing excitement.

By the time they hit the Corn Exchange, debut album Whatever You Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not had become the fastest-selling in the history of the British charts, turning over 350,000 copies in its first week – more than the rest of the Top 20 combined.

The band kicked off that night with a double-whammy of When The Sun Goes Down and I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, and from that point on, the tunes that would go on to become some of the biggest hits of 2006 just kept coming.

I gave them a five-star review in the following day’s Evening News – only because there was no seven-star rating back then. Yes, they were THAT good.

So the band could hardly have had a more auspicious start to their career, and they deservedly went on to win a slew of industry awards – including the prestigious Mercury Prize.

After a blistering debut, many bands suffer ‘second album syndrome’. Not so Arctic Monkeys. Nor did they fall flat on the third or fourth, and AM, their just-released fifth offering, cements their status as one of the most consistently creative and charismatic bands on the planet.

And the best bit? They probably haven’t even reached their peak yet. Who knows what they will be capable of when they do?

While we wait for the answer to that, I urge you to beg for, borrow or steal a copy of AM – it’s an absolute must-have.