Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Indeed, the Arctic Monkeys were made for and by the New Musical Express. It was a match made in heaven. The Arctic Monkeys eschewed the traditional approach to marketing, instead choosing to spread word about themselves across the internet and by way of live gigs in and around their native Sheffield. In that sense they becamed the first true band of the digital age and thereby gave them a status in the eyes of the New Musical Express. Word spread quickly. The Arctic Monkeys were the next best thing in music.
But in reality, it was all hype. The music they play is enjoyable, lightweight, reasonably catchy powerpop, but no more than that. It appeals straight to the teens who flock to buy this album because it relates to their real lives and is sufficiently far divorced from radio friendly mainstream pap to give their devotees the idea that they are part of something different. What it is not is a seminal, ground-breaking, innovative sound or style. It is just powerpop. Reasonably good powerpop in a snot nosed sort of way, but powerpop all the same. Compare it with the early Buzzcocks and see which is better. Still, the Buzzcocks were a generation ago and I suppose every generation needs its own heroes, even if they tread the same ground as others who went before. But the Arctic Monkeys are, to a generation older such as myself, not innovators at all.
The truth is that this is music by a bunch of kids who wrote about their lives; boring, humdrum, disaffected lives. The characters are those you would meet in any large inner-city area in the UK - the girls are slappers; the guys are drunk and when they are not fighting they are trying to chat up the slappers; the cops are the bad guys; and parents do not know what the fuck is going on with their children. The music is nothing special. The lyrics relate directly to the lives of the listeners. Bored, humdrum, disaffected teenagers up and down the country could relate this directly to their own existence. Whether the band can replicate this with their subsequent output is therefore debatable - their lives have changed, whether they care to admit it or not. The bassist has already left. They have picked up gongs and awards. They are different.
One thing which annoys me is the fact that some of the song titles are overly long. It is a trivial matter I know, but it just seems as if the band is trying too hard to be clever. Nothing will alienate their fans more. No one likes a smart arse. Like a lot of bands who have come out in the mid 2000's I predict that their fame will be short lived as the Arctic Monkeys ultimately lack both the creativity and the ability to appeal to more than one generation.
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on 2011-02-20 CharlesMartel Said:
I have to say this is yet another in the long line of UK bands who have been seduced by the mainstream into mediocrity. Whatever their merits when they started out they are nothing more than a creation of their own hype now. Good luck to them, but I'll pass if you don't mind
on 2009-07-06 fortunecookie Said:
Arctic Monkeys are one British band that deserve some of their hype. From the hard rocking opening song "I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor" to the softer but just as rebellious "Riot Van," it's clear that the Arctic Monkeys can throw a party and sound good doing it. The bit of arrogance here comes off well; it's like partying with your older brother. The energy here is undeniable, even when the lyrics are at their most cynical. Of course it's not completely new in concept, but with several decades of rock history behind us, few albums are.
on 2007-10-02 DeathEyesForKiley Said:
The first full length Arctic Monkeys album......what can i possibly say except WOW! One of the most anticipated albums of 06' did not dissappoint. From the 80'sesque "I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor" to "The A Certain Romance" this album is put all together quite nicely. Though it is nothing revolutionary, it is an amazing effort for the young band. They have much maturing to do, but i honestly this is a classic album. It is one that will be an example of how good British rock groups can be. This is a MUST HAVE. More for education of the genre if not for your-self. THATS HOW DAMN GOOD THIS IS.
on 2007-05-31 sublogic Said:
It would be so much easier, if whenever a cocky young act comes around, I could just shrug them off as garbage. But to be honest, these are the bands that I’m drawn to. With the Arctic Monkeys each song seems to either start off as a monster and fall in and out of consciousness like on “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” or “A Certain Romance” or they take a hard left with more reserved stories like “Mardy Bum” and “Riot Van”. The organized disorder is refreshing, not a new concept by any means, but well received none the less.
on 2007-03-20 paperslut Said:
"Hey, have you heard the new Arctic Monkeys record?"
"Don't. 'Cos nothing could beat the old one."
With only a few days to go before Favourite Worst Nightmare gets into the hands of millions of drooling teenagers and a few more before it gets onto store shelves, it's a good time to take a look back at what was in fact, the Godzilla of record releases last year. Barry Gibb once said, and this was sometime at the height of his band's career, "We're so overground, we're underground." From nobody to number one in six months gives the Arctic Monkeys every right to be the over/underground darlings that everyone and Pitchfork have an opinion about.
"Don't believe the hype" says the piddly little boy that Alex Turner is, before his band launches into a tribute to Lurch... er, Peter Crouch on television. With an average age of what seems like 15 and a few months, the Monkeys have managed to do something very few (and we're talking single digits here) bands in the history of this terribly judgmental world of Rock music that we live in have - be cool. Evan Eisenberg talks about the cool performer in the context of the observer and the observed. The cool performer, rather than be observed, becomes the observer and it is in this observation that he mocks the listener, who fumbles hesitantly at the meaning or understanding of the performance. While Eisenberg was picky in who he ascribed this particular trait to (John Lennon, Miles Davis), our man (boy) Alex Turner and his Sheffield quartet deliver the goods in the right department.
Their observations aren't particularly astute and neither is their delivery absolutely unique. In fact, it is possibly more derived and 'put-together' than most releases we got last year. But it is exactly this mish-mash of post-Rock punk mannerism that has them standing out. Where Franz Ferdinand are art and The Clash are punk, the Monkeys are somewhere in between. It's ironical given that whatever people say they are is either one extreme or the other.
On the record itself they're catchy as hell from the word go. Witty, often cynical and persistently 'detailed' they execute start/stop hooks and melodies with all the experience of long time players. There's nothing special about Turner's sing-song way. But he is efficient. His economy lends perfectly to the extravagance of Helders drumming and (the 'late') Nicholson's reasonably expressive bass. Tracks like You Probably Couldn't See... are examples of just how effectively one can execute a 7/10 melody just by throwing in variations of rhythm and bass. It's particularly effective given the production of this record which is relatively raw and does well to complement the teenage crass.
They tell the standard working class family, teenage male tales. Bouncers, bars, girls, it's all been done before but not with such confidence and attitude. It's clear in the distorted chops of Dancing Shoes and the opening riff of I Bet You Look Good... What they lack in style they more than make up for in spunk. Not the personality of The Strokes or the exuberance dance-Rock feel of Franz, but a certain romance with something so naively honest, it's no surprise it's often called fake.
The words and music pour out with this genuine panache and pulls the album out of what would otherwise have been well, just above average. Oh come on, we all know that the internet is doing great things for music and The White Stripes, but credit is due here for much more than just the puffery. "Anticipation has a habit to set you up..." says Turner, and he couldn't be more right. The comparisons and vaguely connected allusions to the hordes of other bands are a given, and though it is almost impossible not to measure, listen to these boys for the merit we forgot to give them as soon as NME's October 2005 cover screamed "What the world's been waiting for."
It's difficult, understandably. But when you're holding on to this time bomb that's exploded right from the time the drums crash in on The View From The Afternoon, for a bang that lasts 40 minutes, there is a realisation of substance. Sure, they've screwed up and exaggerated on more than one occasion. Perhaps Vampires..., their run-in with fame, is a little too boy-ish and didn't quite need the extended drum solo. Their youthful brashness betrays them on Still Take You Home as well, but it's a wonderful execution that extricates them from what could have been a tricky situation. Eventually, they seal the deal with flamboyant pop madness as the last three songs on the record give the album as fitting an end as it could deserve."Americans want grungy people, stabbing themselves in the head on stage. They get a bright bunch like us, with deodorant on, they don't get it. I'm 24 years old, I've got a load of money, what am I gonna do, sit at home and twiddle me thumbs? No. I'm gonna go out and 'ave it." Liam Gallagher's typical unabashed observation reveals a dirty truth. Where Oasis were Rock 'n Roll stars in their own right, Arctic Monkeys crash, boom, bang onto a scene that's craving for something that's bigger than anything magazines, blogs, media and politicians can throw up. And with every second band being touted the 'next big thing', these boys stamp their claim on 'now'.