Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not: Review

Well, here it is, the debut album from possibly the most talked about band since whoever the last most talked about band was. Personally, I haven’t looked forward to a new album so much since the first Franz Ferdinand CD, and that was nearly two years ago. Even though I was able to download it from Napster on Sunday afternoon[1], I still went and bought the CD on Monday. The band are currently at the top of the UK singles chart with When the sun goes down, and if this CD isn’t at the top of the album chart on Sunday, I’ll be very surprised. It’s currently the top selling item on amazon.co.uk. But enough of such introductory babble, and on with the music.

The overall sound is a pretty basic guitar/bass/drums line up. Nothing fancy beyond some really nice changes of speed in some songs, no clever solos, but somehow it’s a rather pleasing sound. But what makes it into something special are the lyrics. Alex Turner has a way with words that makes these songs sound real. These are stories of real lives, sung in a gloriously uncompromising Sheffield accent.[2] And so to the songs. I’ll try not to babble about all of them, but here’s a nice selection:

The view from the afternoon

Looking forward to the night to come:

Anticipation has a habit to set you up
For disappointment in evening entertainment but
Tonight there’ll be some love
Tonight there’ll be a ruckus yeah
Regardless of what’s gone before

I bet you look good on the dancefloor

If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you’ll already know and love this. Still sounds as fresh as ever.

Fake tales of San Francisco

That rare first single, here in all its glory. Talking about naff bands pretending to be from somewhere they’re not, and including such lines as:

Yeah but his bird thinks it’s amazing, though
So all that’s left
Is the proof that love’s not only blind but deaf

You probably couldn’t see for the lights but you were looking straight at me

OK, maximum points for the title. And even more points for this:

Well I’m so tense and never tenser
Well I’ll go a bit Frank Spencer

Which has to be the only reference in popular music to 70s sitcom Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.

Everybody’s trying to crack the jokes and that to make you smile
Those that claim that they’re not showing off are drowning in denial

Nice :cheesy:

Riot van

In an article in this week’s NME, Alex says that this song is about the mostly harmless fun they used to get up to when they were about 14. Not getting into serious trouble, but having a laugh, and winding up the Police a bit:

Have you been drinking, son
You don’t look old enough to me
I’m sorry, officer
Is there a certain age you’re supposed to be
Cause nobody told me

You know, those lines are an absolutely perfect example of what Arctic Monkeys are about.

I could go on (and on, and on… ), but I’ll finish up with the closing track

A certain romance

And over there there’s broken bones
There’s only music, so that there’s new ringtones
And it don’t take no Sherlock Holmes
To see it’s a little different around here

Funny, clever, catchy. Even if they never make another album, or fall apart, of go off in other directions, this album stands as an alarmingly good début. If this is what they do when most of them are still in their teens, the future looks good for these guys.

[1] They did the same with You could have it so much better by those nice Franz Ferdinand guys.
[2] In some of their earlier demos, the accent was less in evidence. Its presence is a distinct improvement.