Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

Arctic Monkeys

Domino, 2006


REVIEW BY: Shane M. Liebler


I heart buzz bands. There's nothing like the unbridled and, many times, unwarranted hype of British press to catapult a band from obscurity to the limelight in an instant. Of course, there are one of two outcomes to such praise, which is tendered approximately 25 times each year: a) it really is the next Sgt. Pepper's, London Calling, Nevermind, <insert life-changing record here> or b) it's just OK.

Hot on the heels of hype-meisters like Franz Ferdinand (overrated), Maximo Park (really overrated) and Futureheads (underappreciated), Arctic Monkeys (rated below) are next in what appears to be a long line of U.K. art- and dance-punk revivalists. This worked for the Brit-pop genre in the 90s (neither Oasis or Blur are overrated), but the Arctic Monkeys are filling less of a void, what with all the Raptures, Radio 4s and !!!s that have been around and acclaimed stateside for quite a while now.

It's easy to dismiss the Arctic Monkeys as Libertines knock-offs, and The Libertines, as the British version of The Strokes, were just OK. But, there's a strange draw to the record as a whole, a draw larger than the handful of singles that propelled the band to claim the No. 1-fastest-selling debut of all time in the U.K.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It's not the everyman lyrics that describe waiting around to go to the club, hanging out at said club, getting hassled by bouncers and getting some ass. The blue-collar tint of their tales is endearing and the semi-skilled drum-and-guitar-lead tunes become increasingly addictive with each listen.

I knew exactly what I was listening to until opener "The View From The Afternoon" broke down to a guitar left-to-right call-and-response of jangling practice-in-the-basement guitar that shifts from channel to channel. Add a contemporary and poetic chorus like "And she won't be surprised and she won't be shocked / When she's pressed the star after she's pressed unlock / And there's verse and chapter sat in her inbox / And all that it says is that you've drank a lot," and you've got yourself a buzz band.

While nothing has the hook of Ferdinand's "Take Me Out," the record on the whole reserves a place in your mind, whether you invite it or not. There's a strange familiarity to the LP, like the track "Mardy Bum" that strikes a similar tone and tempo to Sublime's "Santeria."

Perhaps it's the mundane content, heavy English accent or difficulty putting a finger on the band's influences that makes the band so attractive. As the title suggests, it's hard to say what they are or are not. The U.K. hits "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "When the Sun Goes Down" are two of the least interesting tracks on the album.

Each song does include a chant-worthy chorus like "Kick me out, kick me out" on "Fake Tales from San Francisco" or "Bear that in mind tonight" from "The View from the Afternoon," to give it pop appeal. The signature is ramblings like the opening verse to "From the Ritz to the Rubble" ("Last night these two bouncers / And one of em's alright / The other one's the scary one / His way or no way, totalitarian") that really makes an impression: The Strokes fronted by Colin Meloy of The Decemberists.

Artic Monkeys won't stand any test of time beyond 12 to 18 months, but they will carve their niche in a space of 2006 that indicates they were here and inspired hundreds of thousands to check them out. Essential if you heart buzz bands, and more than just OK.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Shane M. Liebler and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Domino, and is used for informational purposes only.