Some groups in the digital era don’t even bother with singles anymore, let alone B-sides. However, one group certainly don’t subscribe to that ethos: Arctic Monkeys. The Sheffield, England four-piece have been prolific since their first album release in 2006, evolving and mutating along the way.
One thing that’s never changed though, is their commitment to the lost art of the B-side. Every single is certain to have an essential track packaged along with it, and as of 2017, their number of B-sides is in the region of 40 – enough for four albums of material.
What’s most impressive, however, is how consistent they have been. Some put out B-sides like their throwaway tracks, Arctic Monkeys release them like they were precious shards of noise. You don’t have to sift through them for the best – we’ve done it for you. These are the ten greatest Arctic Monkeys B-sides.
This left-of-center oddity from the 2009 “Cornerstone” single finds the band at their most peculiar. Musical notes squeak out of every crevice, with distorted riffs, irregular beats, and distant vocals laying the groundwork, while bizarre keyboard detours permeate its already mystifying sound. Perhaps the highlight of the track is the supreme drumming masterclass as it approaches its conclusion – one which sees drummer Matt Helders pummel his kit into submission courtesy of some flashy techniques. This is Arctic Monkeys with some outsider music influences thrown in for good measure, and it’s wonderful.
9. Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts
One thing that is lacking on some of the band’s most recent work is the charmingly mundane stories that peppered their early records. B-side “Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts” is a prime example. This heart-warming story of a long lost school sweetheart is certainly deserving of a place on their first album, providing the same indie rock style that brought them to the dance in the first place. Overlapping guitar parts, whimsical lyrics, and super tight musicianship make it one not to be missed.
It may be 2017, but this exhilarating cut still gets our blood pumping. From their monumental single “Do I Wanna Know?,” this topsy-turvy B-side entitled “2013” is as sleazy as the rest of AM with its searing riff and slow, deliberate drumbeat. Just when you think you’ve got the song pegged, though, it does a complete 180 towards the end, utilizing a blazing solo and some high-tempo stick work to close it out. Clocking in at just two minutes, 26 seconds, “2013” is the perfect example of quality over quantity.
It’s not just here because it’s our number seven entry – the B-side to “When the Sun Goes Down” is early Arctic Monkeys through and through. From its tight, interlocking rhythm section, to its infectious singalongs – “7” is evidence of just how good the band’s debut LP is when a track as good as this one doesn’t make the cut. Got a hankering for the old Arctic Monkeys style? Give “7” a spin then.
It doesn’t get much more satisfying than this banging B-side from 2012’s “R U Mine.” Entitled “Electricity,” this hard rocker drives with reckless abandon, perfectly complimenting its bold title. They wear their Queens of the Stone Age influence on their sleeve here, powering forward with the same fuzzy distortion that the “First It Giveth” five-piece do. It’s direct, it’s confrontational, and it’s one hell of a B-side – certainly one that could’ve easily been included on AM.
5. Too Much to Ask
Boy, what a track “Florescent Adolescent” was, but if you bought the single, you also got this corker to compliment it. Entitled “Too Much to Ask,” this understated composition finds the band at their most reflective, utilizing shrill guitar chords, reverberating vocal melodies, and laid back drumbeats to achieve the desired murky effect. It may not be as in your face as some of the other B-sides here, but it is one that highlights their knack of putting songs together with careful deliberation.
4. Joining the Dots
This moody cut from 2010’s “My Propeller” single is so fully-formed, it’s genuinely a surprise that it wasn’t included on their third studio album Hamburg. Like a cross between Queens of the Stone Age and Nirvana, “Joining the Dots” features a wailing guitar section, sparse drumbeats, and a haunting production – giving the track a very particular feel that would be present in much of their ensuing work. Never mind Hamburg, this atmospheric piece wouldn’t sound out of place on AM.
3. You’re So Dark
Speaking of atmospheric, this midnight cruiser from 2013’s “One for the Road” single nails the hazy mood it so effortlessly strives for. With frontman Alex Turner’s cries of ‘You’re so dark baby, but I want you hard’ draped over a slick bassline, shrill keyboard flourishes, and some stellar backing vocal harmonies – “You’re So Dark” resonates with the same claustrophobic air that the rest of their AM album does. This is how you do a B-side.
2. Evil Twin
The group’s fourth LP Suck It and See still remains their most underrated record, but they underrated one song themselves in the stunning blues banger “Evil Twin.” This rock ‘n’ roll stomper powers straight ahead with a killer riff, menacing bassline, and thunderous stick work – giving this B-side a vintage sound that wasn’t previously present in their work. In a shocking turn of events, “Evil Twin” actually charted higher than the single from which it was spawned from. Listening to this head-rattler, it’s easy to see why.
1. Temptation Greets You Like Your Naughty Friend
“Brianstorm” was a real gem of a single, but arguably, there was an even better cut on the single release. Yes, entitled “Temptation Greets You Like Your Naughty Friend,” this menacing B-side is a brilliant blend of the group’s debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, and sophomore effort Favourite Worst Nightmare. A cheeky guitar refrain, some inventive drum work, eerie vocal melodies, and even a guest appearance by rapper Dizzee Rascal make this one to remember.