The Arctic Monkeys are one of the more hyped British bands of recent memory. Their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, was the fastest selling debut album ever in the UK. I had read a lot of reviews saying how good these guys are (and mostly just talking about how hyped and big they are in Britain), and after seeing them on SNL I decided check them out.
I am glad I did.
After listening to (and being a little disapointed by) Babyshambles Down in Albion, hearing the Arctic Monkeys was a revalation. I wanted more Libertine-type music, and while Babyshambles was okay in their own right, they weren't as upbeat and 'rockin' as I was looking for. The Arctic Monkeys were.
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not.
The album opens with "The View from the Afternoon". This is a great opener, it rocks, it gets your attention and it kicks ass. The guitar parts are particularly fun; angular parts that remind me a lot of Franz Ferdinand, except not as "club-like".
The second track, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" just plain rocks. This song has been all over the radio and it their "big hit" at the moment. The guitars chug along, then speed up and the song just rolls on the from their. It is 3 minutes of fury; some nice little call and response parts, a nice baseline and sweet drumming.
"Fake Tales Of San Francisco" follows up "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor." It immediately slows down a bit. More determined and forceful; it knows where its going. As the song grows, the music gets heavier and louder; layers are added and added until they get to one of my favorite parts of the whole album: the entire band singing together. It just rocks.
Track four is "Dancing Shoes" is a rolicking song as well (I'm not gonna lie, I like almost all of the songs on the album). "Dancing Shoes" jumps from slow(ish) and soft(ish) to loud and rocking really quickly with the help of pounding guitars. The next song, "You Probably Couldn't See The Lights But You Were Looking Straight At Me" brings back more of the angular guitars. A lot of the band is singing on this one, which is barely over 2 minutes. There is some stop time (where the music stops and either a singer or a single instrument is playing by them/itself). This effect works really well.
"Still Take You Home" starts off hard and heavy, and then gets into a nice groove. The guitar solo is pretty sweet on this one, and the band has some fun nonsensical lyrics (which I always love). (I believe I'm using nonsensical right, words like "la di di da" and stuff, but forgive me if I'm not). Anyways, this song is one of my favs.
The next track, "Riot Van" is more of a ballad. It's a slow little song about underage drinking with some of my favorite lyrics on the entire album: "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". "Riot Van" is a great change of pace song for the album and a good song in its own right.
"Red Light Indicates The Doors Are Secure" seems like a filler song to me. Not bad or boring exactly, but not really something that sticks out to me. Maybe other might like it more, it just seems average to me, though it fits with the entire albums 'mood' if you will.
Track nine, "Mardy Bum" is one of my favorites (I seem to keep saying that don't I?) on the album. The guitar part is catchy as hell. It is a little lighter than some of the other album cuts. If you can listen to this track and your toe doesn't start to tap, or you head to bob, you have no soul. There, I've said it. No soul. Think about that.
The next track rocks pretty hard; lots of distortion, lots of guitars. It's called "Perhaps Vampires is a Bit Strong, But..." which plays on the songs lyrics, the chorus goes "all you people are vampires/all your stories are stale/and though you pretend to stand by us/I know you're certain we'll fail" I may be crazy, but this song may deal with all the hype that the band got before it's debut. But what do I know. The outro is pretty badass, I must say.
"When the Sun Goes Down" is about some street scum, with a small nod to the Police's "Roxanne" thrown in for good fun. I like this song a lot; it is a little like two songs combined; the beginning is filled with nice little guitar strumming (which returns later) and then the song takes on some kickass riffs. Again, if this song doesn't get your toes a'tappin then I hate you. The chorus rocks as well; this is one of the albums highlights.
"From The Ritz To The Rubble" follows "When the Sun Goes Down" (which ended softly) with a fast, almost speaking singing. There is some sparse guitar going which leads into some rough, chugging, distorted guitar driven chorus. Again, this song rocks, but if I was pressed, I'd say this was more of a 'filler' song. But it is still really good. I just wouldn't call it a "highlight" exactly. But it isn't bad by any means. Also, this has some of that nonsensical (I'm still pretty sure I'm using this wrong) words at the end. Fun stuff.
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not ends with "A Certain Romance," which is one of the songs they played on SNL, and one of my personal favorites. The song beings with a sweet drum lick, followed by a sweet guitar riff. Then it falls into a really nice, almost soft high guitar lick, which leads into the main part of the song. Once you get there, there is a real fun bass line. I'm telling ya, I love this song. The lyrics here are definitely my favorite on the album and some of my favorites anywhere (a sample: "and over there there's broken bones/there's only music so that there's new ring tones/and it don't take no Sherlock Holmes/to see it's a little different around here") . This is definitely one of their best songs.
The one thing that kinda bugs me about the album is it's length: at 41 minutes it is kinda short. But after having 16 tracks of Babyshambles, a nice concise album is pretty nice. I really did leave with wanting more, which is good, I guess. At times they remind me a lot of the Libertines, but they aren't a rip off or knock off, they're their own band. And quite a good one at that.
Track Highlights: (I hate being that guy who, when asked for what songs are good, says "all of 'em." All the tracks on this CD are pretty damn good, but if I have to whittle down to some highlights...) "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor", "A Certain Romance", "Riot Van", "Mardy Bum", "When the Sun Goes Down" and "Perhaps Vampires is a Bit Strong But..."