Arctic Monkeys “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”
“Anticipation has a habit to set you up for disappointment,” sings Arctic Monkeys’ front-man Alex Turner, and if anyone should know, it’s him. In barely a year, his band of Sheffield teenagers has gone from an unsigned garage band posting their demos online to the biggest band in Britain with “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” becoming the fastest selling British debut ever. Anticipation had been mounting even before
the band signed to buzz-label Domino. Their sold-out hometown gigs were attended by rabid fans from all over the country. With all the hype around the band’s fame, it’s easy to forget the music, which does not disappoint.
The band is centered around Turner and his poetic tales of youth in suburban England. His words are sung with passion, and the speed and precision of a rap artist. He tells the angry tales of many teens in Sheffield and the many English towns like it. He’s angry at rude bouncers, girlfriends with less than sunny dispositions, and the countless unoriginal bands jumping onto the scene.
As Turner’s accented vocals are laid down thicker than molasses, the Monkeys back him up with a tight post punk that contains more hooks in one song than most bands can achieve in a whole album.
Last October, the Monkeys dropped their first single, “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor.” This raucous number, which debuted at number one on the British singles chart, gets the album into full swing in the number two slot. From there, the CD barely lets up its racecar pace, with a string of solid songs that barely push three minutes each. The combination of jittery power chords and swiftly picked riffs wins on almost every track.
But the Monkeys save their best for last, and the last three songs end with a bang. “When The Sun Goes Down” is a grimy song about the guys and gals who roam the dark streets. Turner’s wit is evident around every lyrical turn as he croons, “So who’s that girl there?/I wonder what went wrong so that she had to roam the streets/She don’t do major credit cards/I doubt she does receipts/It’s all not quite legitimate.” Next is the scornful “From the Ritz to the Rubble,” during which Turner angrily describes his failed odyssey into a nightclub, complete with put-downs to the condescending bouncer.
The album closes with the epic “A Certain Romance.” This five-and-a-half minute opus is filled with bouncy ska rhythms, a poignant solo, and Turner’s constant stream of above-par lyrics. He comments on the sunken state of small-town England with striking clarity and verbosity. When the song and album come to a close, the listener feels surprisingly satisfied.
The ultimate triumph is not the songs themselves, but the emotions they provoke. Every song is filled with lust, passion, and the desirous rage that flow through the veins of the teenage spirit. It’s through these songs that the Arctic Monkeys claim their title as the hottest young British band today.