Arctic Monkeys have long been celebrated as a Brit-pop and alternative rock band that emerged in the 2000s. And admittedly, their sound covers a lot of genres, but are Arctic Monkeys emo?
Arctic Monkeys is not an emo band. Instead, they are defined as a blend of indie rock, garage rock, Brit-pop, post-punk, and alternative rock.
Emo is a style of rock music that has an emphasis on emotional expression through the lyrics and vocal delivery. But it originated out of Washinton DC as a form of hardcore punk. Arctic Monkeys have an edge, but would not be considered punk. And going purely off the definition of emotional vocals, almost anything could be considered emo.
But emo is a distinct genre often attributed to bands as varied as My Chemical Romance, Panic! at the Disco, Thirty Secords to Mars, and many others. And Acrtic Monkeys’s sound is just too different from those bands.
Alex Turner, leader of the AM is one hell of a frontman whose music is a hybrid of various genres developed in the 80s and 90s. But do they also belong to genres that we don’t know about?
Let’s dig deeper!
— 21stCenturyShelter (@21stShelter) February 26, 2020
What genre are the Arctic Monkeys?
Arctic Monkeys do not fit neatly into any one genre. At different times, they adopted different genres, such as garage rock, post-punk, Brit-pop, and alternative/indie rock.
Just like their evolution, the Arctic Monkeys have shapeshifted into multiple genres at different times. They essentially debuted as a post-punk group in 2002 and became one of the earliest bands to gain popularity through the internet.
They experimented with other genres such as Indie rock, Indie pop, Psychedelic rock, Blues-rock, Glam rock, and Space Pop sounds as they established themselves in the industry.
- Indie Rock: AM’s first album is filled with influences from this genre and predominantly uses bass, and hard drums, making it compatible with varying musical genres.
- This genre originated in the late 1990s and early 2000s, taking inspiration from traditional blues to grunge. AM’s album, “Favorite Worst Nightmare”, fits perfectly into the post-punk revival framework.
- Psychedelic Rock: Psychedelic rock takes inspiration from the “perception-altering” styles. On their “Humbug” album, AM utilizes a variety of tools that we haven’t heard of before, including xylophones and shakers.
But did they also use autotune? Check out my recent article where I analyze Turner’s singing capabilities. I have also discussed why Turner’s unique voice has also been the subject of criticism for many years.
Just click that link to check it out on my site.
— NME (@NME) September 7, 2018
Are Arctic Monkeys post-punk?
Post-punk is one of the many genres into which Arctic Monkeys are classified. Their first album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”, is 100% post-punk.
Musically, the album that was released in 2006 was recorded in the style of post-punk.
It contains post-punk-filled lyrics. As per Wikipedia, the album runs around the common thematic styles of indie rock, garage rock revival, post-punk revival, and punk rock.
All tracks are recorded in first-person narratives of observations made within this same context, especially tracks like:
- “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”
- “You Probably Couldn’t See the Lights, but You Were Staring Straight at Me”
- “Still Take You Home”
- “Dancing Shoes”
These songs examine the theme of human behavior in discos or night parties, while other tracks in the album explore the aspects of nightlife and prostitutes in the locality.
All these tracks showcase a sense of detachment from the raw simplicity and sensibilities of life that were also characteristic of the post-punk style.
happy birthday to one of the best arctic monkeys albums , favourite worth nightmare pic.twitter.com/Dfs4Y09O2p
— jupiter ☾ am7 when.. (@hmbugz) April 18, 2022
Does Alex Turner like emo music?
Most of the bands Alex Turner claims to listen to and or influence him are not emo bands. Instead, Turner claims bands such as The Beatles, Dr. Dre, The Strokes, and Roots Manuva are among his favorites.
The 2000s was an enchanting period as it saw the rise of “one of Britain’s greatest bands just getting greater in an unexpected but hugely welcome way”. Arctic Monkeys brought music that was inspiring and had a transformative effect on people.
Interestingly, the band’s vocalist, Alex Turner, in contrast, was never influenced by anyone. But he did like listening to various genres in his teens. Growing up, he was obsessed with rock music, hip-hop, and garage rock.
And subconsciously, Turner also had a love for emo music because he loved listening to bands that were essentially emo.
There is no denying that these were all the influences that seeped into him, helping him build a distinct style of his own. His taste in new musical territories changed when The Strokes arrived. Suddenly, rock became exciting, and after years of vagueness, Turner reminisced about the overall effect the group had on him.
But along with music, Turner also made changes to his lifestyle.
After years of drug usage, he decided to leave them for good. Not familiar with the story? Check out my recent article to learn about Turner’s journey to sobriety. I have also discussed which of the band members are currently sober.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
oh to be in arctic monkeys concert pic.twitter.com/LCm2EqVqrD
— adel (@sufj4n) September 7, 2020
Has Arctic Monkeys’ sound changed since they started?
Since its inception in the Sheffield area of the UK, Arctic Monkeys’ sound has evolved significantly. And they continue to evolve as a band. AM’s latest album is living proof.
Arctic Monkeys’ songs are mostly experimental, which often leads them to change their sound consistently. For example, their last album, released in 2018, “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”, came under a lot of fire for being “not a guitar-heavy record”.
Turner, in response, revealed that a lot of the “material was written on the piano and was inspired by Leonard Cohen to Dion.”
But it was also not the first time the band steered away from their traditional indie guitar rock sound. Here are a few examples that show Turner always had his eyes set on the next genre.
- Matador: The project shows AM dipping into the psychedelic catalog.
- The Jeweler’s Hands: The album’s dying tunes show weird lyrics and ghoulish-sounding psychedelic sounds.
- Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? Arctic Monkeys venture out of their comfortable rock and roll genre and into a new R&B song.
- Turner transcends into modern-day psychedelia with “It Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” (Tame Impala cover).
- Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino: This shows Turner breaking his traditional shell. He ditches the guitars in favor of the piano, lending the album a completely futuristic sound.
Emo #101 (Thread) – Introduction to Emo (pre/proto-emo and ’emocore’)
So what is Emo anyway? A music genre? subculture? lifestyle? philosophy? A “mood”? Is it a pejorative term? Is it an insult or a badge of honour?
— Junklist (@junklistMY) January 13, 2020
How do you know if a band is emo?
There are no specific dynamics to label a band as emo. However, emo is mostly characterized by the softness and loudness of punk rock music. It emphasizes emotional expression, especially through concessional lyrics.
Some emo leans toward progressive music and uses complex guitar work, unorthodox structure, and extremely dynamic shifts.
Lyrics-wise, the music focuses on emotional and confessional topics, dealing with issues like failed romance, pain, insecurities, suicidal thoughts, love, self-loathing, and relationships.
AllMusic described the genre as “usually either free-associative poetry or intimate confessions.” Emo music in the early 1990s was hardcore punk that used emotional and introspective lyrics with less structure than regular hardcore.
According to the same platform, emo in most of the 1990s “borrowed style from some combination of Fugazi, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Weezer.”
Here are some of the best emo bands of all time:
- The GetUp Kids
- Dashboard Confessional
- American Football
- Brand New!
- Jimmy Eats the World
- My Chemical Romance
- Panic! at the Disco
- 30 Seconds to Mars
- Taking Back Sunday
- The Promise Ring
The Arctic Monkeys are one of the bands that found success as they developed. With Indie Rock as their foundation, the group explored various genres through their discography.
They conquered diverse landscapes and styles. However, many fans question whether emo was also one of their favorite genres. The Arctic Monkeys are not an emo band.
In fact, it is very challenging to circumscribe the band under one specific label because they keep changing their sound and pace.