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

  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Domino
  • 2006-01-23

It’s already incredibly obvious before this album has been released just how well its going to do. For months now, “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” has been an indie-disco-floor-filling staple, reached the top of the charts, and had copious amounts of radio-play; for those it hadn’t already sucked in, it was then included on Zane Lowe’s radio show advert on television. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’s release date was moved forward a week by popular demand and record shops were taking advance orders, but how does the album fair compared to this impressive hype? Luckily enough for the Sheffield boys, it’s only going to do as well as it deserves to: Domino’s newest chart hopefuls have mounted a mighty challenge to label-mates Franz Ferdinand’s throne of success, by making what could easily be the pop-soundtrack to 2006.

“I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” is slightly misleading though, but not in a bad way. The single is a classic, energetic and rocking anthem but it is only when it is looked at next to its equally succesful second single “When The Sun Goes Down” that what Arctic Monkeys have to offer comes apparent. Where the first single offered pure, no-messing, balls-on-the-table energy, the second showed off the band’s range, clever catchiness and humourous lyricism.

punky energy, play-around with stop/starts and other intricasies, alongside a general upbeat party mood

The songs featured here like opener, “View From The Afternoon”, “Fake Tales of San Fransisco”, “Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But…” and “Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured” are incredibly catchy and not just dull and straighforward – there’s decent interplay between the instruments on the riffs, interesting switches between solo and joint vocals and musical progression in each song. Arctic Monkey’s messy punky energy, mixed with their play-around with stop/starts and other intricasies, alongside a general upbeat party mood means that Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not is going to strike a chord with many, including fans of the all the recent chart revivals of new-wave, post-punk and garage rock — but this album doesn’t sound retro at all.

As well as their more frenetic mood, mid-album track “Riot Van” shows how the band have a distinctly lighter sound, with its laid-back ballad quality, also shown in “Mardy Bum”, “When The Sun Goes Down” and “A Certain Romance” although these songs do progress into the louder, uptempo territory of the majority of the album.

the heavy Sheffield-accented vocals offer not just an incredible recognisablilty but a distinct charm

A major feature to the band’s sound is the heavy Sheffield-accented vocals, which offer not just an incredible recognisablilty but a distinct charm and there’s also some fantastic lyrics being sung. Lines like “There’s only music so that there’s new ringtones”, “I can’t see through your fake tan” and Frank Spencer references show their witty take on everyday life. But the emotion that comes across in much more simplistic lines like “Last night what we talked about it made so much sense but now the haze has ascended it dont make any sense anymore” in “From The Ritz To The Rubble” or the story of a prostitute in “When The Sun Goes Down” show a more serious side but still a recognisable one and importantly the album never takes a darker or unaccessible turn.

There’s emotion, a hell of a lot of energy and some great songs here. It’s a classic pop album that easily hooks you in; its got an appeal that’s gonna secure it play after play after play on many bedroom stereos, club decks and radio setlists for months to come.

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