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The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Artic Monkeys

A review of their album 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not'

Artic MonkeysReview Snapshot: Four white male teenagers from oop North manage to conquer the world with their reinvention of punk. A modern classic?

The Cluas Verdict: 9 out of 10.

Full Review:
Artic Monkeys, a four-piece punk band from Sheffield introduce their debut album with pure graffittied gutso. The opening chords of 'The View From The Afternoon' chime out like a fag-filled beer can being kicked across a house party's faded carpet. And the beginning delivers how the rest of the record evolves - the attitude, the lyrics, the catchy sensibility, the rock. It's drunken, horny, wanting and desperate. Ultimately it's punk, with lead singer Alex Turner possessing a voice that is simultaneously jaded and fresh, grabbing rasps across thirteen near perfect tracks. 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' cements the band as one of contradictions - it's messy and tight, poppy and raw.

It's almost hard to be objective about tracks like 'Fake Tales Of San Francisco' because, although blaring out in this album context, it's hardly a first listen. This, and the two number one singles (the second track and the later 'When The Sun Goes Down', a gorgeous song about prostitutes and their customers) from the album are now engrained in most people's hazy 2.25am memories, like a bruise from an elbow whack on the cubicle door of a club's overcrowded toilet. The commentary is astoundingly astute. It's bitter, sarcastic and soaked in the humour of differentiation - just like the seemingly unrelated album title itself. Lines like "the band were fucking wank" are wry without sneering.

'Dancing Shoes' may be one of the weaker tracks on the record, which is hardly a derogatory remark. It's a pub to club to party track, with some street tripping in between, and emphasises the essence of the album's tone - a night out as a microcosm of an entire lifestyle. 'You Probably Couldn't See For The Lights But You Were Looking Straight At Me' is a frantic soundtrack to dating and a prequel to 'Still Take You Home' (which could be the sequel of The Streets' 'Fit But You Know It').

An album highlight, 'Riot Van' is the obligatory quiet one, a tale of an unnecessary late night brush with the law, displaying a melodic tenderness amongst the carnage not heard since the chink of light that was 'About A Girl' from Nirvana's debut. 'Mardy Bum' is a shimmering and guitar scratching duel reminiscent of the Libertines, but with love more associated with exasperation than outcome.

The final track (which opens with almost Ocean Colour Scene-esque chords) concludes the Artic view: that they're stuck in a world they can't truly engage with, deciding instead to reflect it to perfection, and occasionally getting sucked into the sorry mess of northern living.

The music is desperate yet effortless, somehow completely overwhelming by maintaining an underwhelming format, insecure, yet with a knowledge that frankly they are better than everyone else. Well, not everyone, but in this genre, surely, better than most.

Una Mullally

(bullet) Check out a less positive review of this album by CLUAS writer Ian Wright.
(bullet) Check out the exclusive CLUAS interview with Andy from the Artic Monkeys.
(bullet) To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of the Artic Monkeys album on Amazon just click here.