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Arctic Monkeys’ first record was characterized by short, punchy, pop-punk tunes highlighting the energy, complexity and hypocrisy of night-crawling youth in the burgeoning digital age. This track kicks into high gear from square-one and barely relinquishes, its scratchy guitars and snappily spry drums fit to throw even a first-time listener into a frenzy of head-banging glee. Though the band’s sound would become palpably more mature with its next record, on this and the rest of “Whatever People Say I Am,” they unashamedly sound like just what they are: a few kids having the time of their lives. (Frontman Alex Turner was only 20 when the debut was released, just FYI.) “ A Certain Romance” (“Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not,” 2006)


This may be my favorite ending track to any record I’ve ever listened to; it is a showcase of everything that makes Arctic Monkeys great in terms of musicianship, lyricism and structure. Every member of the band makes the most of his chance to shine, between Matt Helders’ pounding opening drums, Andy Nicholson’s joyously warm bass line and Turner’s poetry that manages to somehow be simultaneously critical, renounced and sprinkled with sentiment. It goes from adrenaline-fueled to nostalgic to funkily spry and back again without ever being clunky, and the final chord is chill-inducingly satisfying, a perfect ending to a near-perfect record. If there’s any one song on this list you should get to know, it’s this. “ Fluorescent Adolescent” (“Favourite Worst Nightmare,” 2007)

This was probably Arctic Monkeys’ most popular track until the release of “AM” six years later, and with good reason. In the year since its previous record’s release, the band’s style had become darker and more atmospheric and polished without losing any of its wit or charm, and “Fluorescent Adolescent” is a perfect example of this transition. Written about a middle-aged woman mourning the passing of her sexual prime, it features rapid-fire, punchline-after-punchline lyrics that I’ve gotten endless joy from learning and memorizing over the years; I’m sure you will, too. “ The Bakery” (2007)

Before the age of streaming, this one probably required a bit of digging to find. It’s one of the B-sides to the “Fluorescent Adolescent” single, though it somehow didn’t land a deserved spot on the tracklist of “Favourite Worst Nightmare.” (It certainly could have injected some momentum into the record’s brooding second half.) I’m thankful my former WUVT co-DJ found that single buried in the stacks, because “The Bakery” is one of Arctic Monkeys’ most sweetly sentimental tunes. It’s sure to earn a spot on your “right-in-the-feels” Spotify playlist — it’s certainly on mine (shameless plug).

“Humbug” understandably remains Arctic Monkeys’ lowest-charting record in the United States; though it’s not half-bad on its own, when compared to the band’s other work, it’s unexciting and tone-deaf. (It was produced by Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, whose trudgy, dissonant stoner-rock style just doesn’t click with the Monkeys.) Yet it shines in spots, most brightly with “Cornerstone.” Turner’s goal with the song was to “write something in a major key, but that wasn’t cheesy,” a notably rare find in the band’s catalogue. It delivers fully, taking Turner’s songwriting to a place of romantic vulnerability it seldom visits. “ Pretty Visitors” (“Humbug,” 2009)

While I hesitate to call it my favorite Arctic Monkeys song, I have no problem saying “Pretty Visitors” is their most fun. You’re sure to get a kick out of the ludicrous, non-sequitur-pumped lyrics, but if there’s anything to listen for here, it’s the machine gun fire of Matt Helders on the drums, whose other impressive work includes “Favourite Worst Nightmare” opener “ Brianstorm.” (Not nearly enough people understand how unbelievably dexterous this guy is.) Unmatched in its sheer electric ballsiness, there’s a reason this is one of the band’s favorite songs to perform live. “ The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” (“Suck It and See,” 2011)

Remember when you were 16 and would look for any reason to hate something? Well, years ago I completely wrote off Turner and Co.’s fourth LP “Suck It and See” as an unremarkable slog because the lead single, “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” entirely failed to impress me. I didn’t actually listen to the record from start to finish until just a few days ago, though I was disappointed to find that my teenage presuppositions were entirely correct. While “Suck It and See” is Arctic Monkeys’ most listenable record (the band experiments with reverb-heavy guitar pop that bands like the Shins do far better), it also is a collection of relatively by-the-numbers songs that have trouble distinguishing themselves from one another. “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” simply made this list because I found it slightly more enjoyable than the rest of the record. “ R U Mine?” (“AM,” 2013)

I distinctly remember the first time I heard this song: I had just snagged “AM” on CD because it was on sale at Barnes & Noble (this was 2014 — you could call me old-school) and I popped it into the disc player in my car before taking off for a Super Bowl party. I had heard “Do I Wanna Know?” (track one) countless times on the radio already, so I skipped ahead to this song (track two), and it was all I listened to for that entire drive. The pure energy of the track, from the electrifying opening guitar pluck to the frenetic final bars, was intoxicating to the point that I couldn’t stop replaying it — I knew most of the words by the end of the night. Four years and countless listens later, “R U Mine?” still holds up. “ Mad Sounds” (“AM,” 2013)