Producer: Domino Records
Released: 23 January 2006
Is it just me or has Britain been busy re-learning how to play instruments recently? A nation swallowed up by discos and synthesizers for the last 20 years at least, the Arctic Monkeys are on the crest of a wave of musical talent from Scotland to Plymouth with their highly acclaimed Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not album release. These Sheffield boys — and I do mean boys, at 19 and 20 years old — have amassed an amazing fan base and in no way require rating handicaps for their age. Most of the four band members (i.e., Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Matt Helders and Andy Nicholson) have managed to master their instruments in less years that you can count on one hand. They have reached a pinnacle of song writing and musical execution that many older bands have struggled to achieve.
Although the Arctic Monkeys owe a great deal to their early-devoted fans who shared un-produced tracks on the Internet and gained the band an impressive following, this album has undoubtedly been a breakout moment for the boys. Charting at number one in the U.K. and Australia, CD sales have so far only managed to position them as number 16 in Canada, but this number is destined to rise. Tagged as an “Indie/Punk Revival” band, the Arctic Monkeys are astoundingly flawless in their performance. The musicians have been heavily influenced by their northern English roots. They write about life in Sheffield the way you might expect people twice their age to do, in an almost separated and reflective way. The following lyrics are from the track titled “A certain romance,”
Well oh they might wear classic Reeboks
Or knackered Converse
Or tracky bottoms tucked in socks
But all of that’s what the point is not
The point’s that there isn’t no romance around there
And there’s the truth that they can’t see
They’d probably like to throw a punch at me
And if you could only see them, then you would agree
Agree that there isn’t no romance around there
It’s heavily English, I’m sure you can tell. But cultural music can be such a great way to understand life in a different part of the world, and to realize how completely different places can be held down by the same restrictions and expectations of youth. Sheffield doesn’t sound too different from Stettler, to be honest. In both cases there are angry kids in the latest Nike shoes, getting in fights with out-of-towners and proclaiming they are the greatest breed in the world.
These guys are barely of age. They could be scratching at a mixing table or getting in drunken brawls like so many others in their part of the world. I couldn’t possibly guess what has pulled them up from the dredges of their working class, grey industrial region and given them the ability to see the way to a better life, but good on them. The album is a complete success.
Whatever You Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not offers thirteen songs woven together carefully from fantastic lyrics, incredible guitar, poignant bass and drumming, and simply the energy of successful youth. Overall, this album is seriously impressive, a tribute to all the great rock bands that have come from Britain in the past. Well-done Arctic Monkeys! Under 21 and the songs aren’t even about getting revenge on your teachers.
Arctic Monkeys (2006). A certain romance [track 13]. Whatever You Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not [sound recording]. Retrieved from http://www.arcticmonkeys.com/lyrics.htm