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

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Reviewed on 21st January 2006.


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

By Arctic Monkeys

There's that little bit of elitist in me that would just love to shoot this album down right from the off, to rip into it with merciless vigour and launch a tirade about how why it's because of bands like the Arctic Monkeys that music isn't like it used to be. They'd be uproar in streets, people would call for my head and we'd maybe even get a nice generic angry mob with archaic torches and random pointy objects marching through the streets. Oh how fun that would be, but alas, it's fucking impossible to resist. Hype mongerers, pat yourselves on the back, you got this one spot on. The Arctic Monkeys' debut album is a fantastic piece of work.

'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' is THE documentation for this generation. Alex Turner and co. haven't re-invented the wheel. A million miles away from that in fact, and in some ways you could argue as to whether just basically saying what you see on a night out in Sheffield actually accounts for musical genius. But it's all just so damn charming and well put together into bite size nuggets of pikey, scuzzy, indie dance chunks, you can't help but completely discount the overriding flaws of the musical validity of what, in reality, is a vastly overused blueprint. At such a young age, the kind of slickness and superiority of this album compared to their contemporaries is almost unfathomable. The song arrangements and time signatures are more complex than they first appear, considerably more varied than the verse/chorus/verse system the Monkeys could have so easily adopted and still been blessed with similar success ('I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' being the prime example of simplicity paying off), hopefully this will stand them in good stead for a more durable life expectancy in the future.

I'd hate to think, the Arctic Monkeys sound and recent triumphs boil down to Alex Turner's patented *Yorkshire Twang* in his voice but it is this very fact that overrides the record. A common as muck, working class accent that is almost a badge of honour that he has lived through every trial and tribulation he sings about. A believable, trust worthy voice for kids to connect with if you will. And potentially a role model that has been very much non-existent for many years.

Without wanting to delve too far into the realms of cultural significance and all that bollocks, you can't help but feel this meteoric Arctic Monkeys rise to fame is more than just 'another band'. The fullest tent for years at last Summers Leeds Festival? A debut number 1 single with little or no promotion? Tickets going for 75+ without a major release under their belts? C'mon, something's going on here. They'll still be plenty of naysayers out there that claim the hype levels are way too high (coincidently, as was I), but the final product from all this kafuffle, namely 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not', is all the fans will expect and all the things the people who wanted Arctic Monkeys to fail will have been dreading. From the almost Libertines-esque 'The View From The Afternoon', through the singles (including a shiny re-recording of calling card 'Fake Tales Of San Francisco'), to flat out dance songs in 'Dancing Shoes' and 'From The Ritz To The Rubble' and the slower introspective average kid on the street emotive numbers like 'Riot Van' and then finally the final piece of the Monkey puzzle (so to speak) that ties the whole album together, the embodiment of what Arctic Monkeys are all about, 'A Certain Romance' closes the album is typically superb style.

Just as we've packed our dusty top 10 scribblings away, 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' will still be at the forefront of people's CD collections come this time next year. It would take a much more cold hearted, joyless person than myself to begrudge Arctic Monkeys success now. Face facts and embrace it. Arctic Monkeys are going to be huge.



All replies to this article. Log in to post a reply.

On 23rd January 2006 at 17:30 Anonymous 4705 wrote...

they are good live, hope the cd captures that.



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